| Marlon Samuels (left) and Chris Gayle celebrate the dismissal of Brad Hogg in Grenada Sunday. (AP)
St George’s (Grenada): An unbeaten 103 by Wavell Hinds helped blast the West Indies to a morale-boosting third straight win over Australia on Sunday, although the one-day series ended 4-3 in favour of the tourists.
The West Indies scored 249 for one in 43.3 overs for a nine-wicket victory, overtaking Australia’s 247 for eight in 50 overs.
Hinds earned the adulation of the Queen’s Park Stadium crowd by scoring back-to-back match-winning centuries. His unbeaten 125 on Friday carried the West Indies to a three-wicket win.
Hinds and Chris Gayle weathered an early salvo of pace bowling by Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie to forge an opening stand of 116.
Gayle was bowled by Andrew Symonds for 60, but Brian Lara ensured that the innings lost none of its momentum as he provided the ideal foil for Hinds.
| Darren Lehmann acknowledges the crowd after his century Sunday
The West Indies skipper then wrapped up the game in dramatic fashion with three successive sixes off Darren Lehmann.
Earlier, Lehmann’s resolute innings of 107 had led the tourists to a competitive total.
Man-of-the-Match Gayle had set the tone with impressive bowling figures of five for 46. He then made his own scoring intentions clear in the second over with a fierce drive that had the square point umpire scurrying for cover.
Gillespie sent a string of bouncers fizzing past the batsmen’s ears, but could not prevent Gayle and Hinds from settling into a high-scoring groove.
McGrath, on the other hand, was lacking his customary fire as the world champions’ punishing schedule began to take its toll.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting was unable to take the field after taking a Mervyn Dillon delivery on the hip during his abbreviated two-run innings.
The world champions had been given a fighting chance when Lehmann and Symonds manufactured a century partnership after an early collapse.
Australia had lost openers Matthew Hayden (5) and Adam Gilchrist (8) early on and were struggling at 18 for two after seven overs. Their plight worsened when Ponting was forced to leave the field.
Symonds (48) was eventually caught by Hinds trying to lift Gayle to the deep mid-wicket boundary after putting on 117 with Lehmann. Michael Clarke and Ian Harvey both went cheaply before Brad Hogg (53) provided more resistance.
However, Gayle turned on the style to seal his best bowling figures in a one-day International. He had Lehmann caught by Samuels, then dismissed Brett Lee (4) in the same manner before bowling Hogg on the penultimate ball of the innings.
“I’m very happy with this performance,” Lara said. “We told ourselves that we would treat the last three games as a different series and we met all our targets.”
Ponting dismissed suggestions that the sudden switch from a record 21-match winning streak to a three-match losing streak was the result of tiredness. “Its been disappointing and leaves a sour taste in the mouth on what has been a pretty good tour,” he said.
Police and BWIA airline officials are investigating the theft of equipment from the Australian team’s luggage at the Trinidad airport, an airline official said Sunday.
The ACB said some players’ bags had been tampered with last week and that as many as 35 items went missing as the team was flying to Grenada for the last two ODIs.
The board has not yet filed a claim with the Trinidad- based airline on how much the equipment was worth.
The bill could run up to thousands of dollars, as missing items included bats, pads, shoes, sun glasses and other personal items, he said. Some handbags were missing altogether.
Australian team manager Steve Bernard said this is not the first time equipment has gone missing at Trinidad’s airport. Last month, a few small items disappeared when the players left after their second Test against the West Indies.
The theft is believed to have occurred after the team’s flight left Trinidad, and 41 of the team’s 87 pieces of luggage were left behind due to lack of space on the plane, according to Alloy Lequay, head of the Trinidad and Tobago cricket board.