Day 1 slightly to the Aussies
By Garth Wattley in Trinidad | Mon, April 16, 2012 - 12:02 AM
Michael Clarke won the toss and his Australian side also took the first day of the second Digicel Test yesterday.
A Sunday crowd of 10 000 saw a day of battle end with Australia on 208 for five at the Queen’s Park Oval.
Michael Hussey (26) and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (11) were together in a partnership already worth 30.
Both were given chances; Hussey by wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh off Shane Shillingford when he was five, and Wade, a more difficult one by Kraigg Brathwaite when two.
On a pitch with balls already keeping low, where the West Indies will have to bat last, those misses may cause the hosts greater pain.
Despite some diligent bowling, especially by off-spinner Shane Shillingford who returned to the team in place of Devendra Bishoo, the day did not go the way of the Windies.
First, they lost vice-captain Kirk Edwards to a knee injury that ruled him out late on Saturday. Kieran Powell replaced him.
Then Sammy called incorrectly at the toss. And as the day developed, there were incidents and near misses that left the skipper with a rueful expression on his face.
West Indies also did not get the kind of start required from Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards with the new ball.
After the first hour, Aussie openers David Warner and Ed Cowan had posted 53. There were just too many easy hits from the fast bowlers, slow to adjust to the slowness of the track and to the fact that patience and a disciplined line of attack were what were most needed.
Warner may not have survived the first over on another day. He was belatedly given out caught by umpire Marais Erasmus of South Africa off the last ball, only for Sammy to withdraw the appeal.
The edge off Edwards had indeed dropped short of wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh. However, subsequent TV replays showed there was a very strong case for lbw which both the fielding team and the official missed.
Coach Ottis Gibson, sitting in the players’ enclosure, was not pleased. And it would not be the last time for the day a decision by the officials would have such an effect on Gibson. Neither was it the last occasion umpire Erasmus would find himself in a spot over a decision of his.
West Indies instead had to wait until the introduction of Shillingford after the water break for their first success.
Out of international cricket for over a year because of an illegitimate action, the big man from Dominica settled straight away, drawing Warner (29 – four fours) forward and inducing the edge to Sammy at slip.
That breakthrough also ensured that the home side would finish the morning strong.
On spot immediately with both line and length, Shillingford and Sammy forced the batsmen into greater circumspection.
Eventually, West Indies were rewarded with another wicket before lunch.
Another bowling change brought almost instant results for the captain when he was replaced by Roach, who trapped Cowan lbw, a decision which the batsman unsuccessfully tried to overturn by TV referral.
With lunch taken at 74 for two, it was “advantage nobody”.
West Indies needed quick wickets to set Australia back after the break. The visitors needed consolidation.
West Indies did get a quick wicket.
Ricky Ponting (seven) briefly lived in hope when, having been squared up by a Roach delivery which snagged the outside edge, he jerked his head around to see wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh fail to hold the catch. But his relief was fleeting as Sammy, lunging to his left at slip, snared the rebound.
But, more importantly, Australia got the steadying partnership they needed. Vice-captain Shane Watson and his skipper Clarke stayed together for over two hours to post 84 for the fourth wicket and take the total up to 167.
They successfully navigated tea. And following that largely uneventful but gritty period of play, they picked up the pace after the break.
Watson, always quick to put away the short ball, and Clarke, ever the sweet stroker of the ball and quite happy to use his feet against the slow bowlers, looked to impose themselves on the game.
Some 17 runs came off the first two overs from Shillingford and Roach. However, West Indies pulled things back again.
It must still puzzle Shillingford why his initially successful lbw appeal against Clarke – upheld by Erasmus – was overturned, especially since TV replays suggested the batsman had been struck on the back foot and that the ball would have hit the middle stump.
But in the next over by Narsingh Deonarine, Clarke was out, on 45, pulling a long hop to Shillingford on the midwicket boundary.
A patient 56 (227 minutes – seven fours) by Watson was halted by a sharp, two-handed bat/pad catch by Adrian Barath as the batsman prodded forward to Shillingford.
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