Windies fall away
SYDNEY – Opener Kraigg Brathwaite stroked an enterprising half-century but West Indies’ batting wobbled to give Australia the advantage on the opening day of the final cricket Test here yesterday.
Batting first, the Caribbean side finished the rain-hit day at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 207 for six, with Brathwaite top-scoring with 85.
All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, in his second Test, was unbeaten on 35, scored at a run a ball, and was partnered by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin on 23.
Left-hander Darren Bravo also sparkled, albeit briefly, in scoring an attractive 33.
Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite put on 91 for the second wicket following the early loss of Shai Hope for nine but the familiar middle-order collapse followed, with the Windies losing five wickets for 55 runs, to slump to 159 for six in the final session.
However, Carlos Brathwaite and Ramdin put on 48 in an unbroken seventh-wicket stand, to stall Australia’s progress.
West Indies once again had a dodgy start, losing the right-handed Hope in the morning’s fifth over, sparring at an out-swinger from seamer Josh Hazlewood and nicking a catch behind.
Brathwaite and Bravo countered with dominant strokeplay as West Indies enjoyed one of their finest sessions of the series.
Emerging from a watchful start, Brathwaite blossomed to stroke ten fours in an innings lasting 174 balls, while Bravo showed glimpses of his good form in a 95-ball innings which contained six fours.
Bravo twice drove pacer James Pattinson for exquisite off-side boundaries in the 11th over before pulling the same bowler through mid-on for another four, in his next over.
Brathwaite was uncharacteristically audacious, twice coming down to off-spinner Nathan Lyon and lifting him back overhead for boundaries.
He brought up his second half-century of the series in the third over before lunch when after punching Mitchell Marsh to the ropes at point, he followed up with a couple to square leg.
Unbeaten on 32 at lunch with West Indies on 92 for one, Bravo added just one after the resumption before falling at 104 for two, caught at by Usman Khawaja at backward square as he failed to keep down a pull off Pattinson.
West Indies lost Marlon Samuels for four before rain forced an early tea break, and a further three wickets following the resumption.
Samuels, with a wretched 31 runs from four innings in the series, steered Lyon to Hazlewood at point and immediately set off for a non-existent run. Both he and Brathwaite started and stopped before Samuels was left stranded by the throw to the keeper’s end.
Resuming after the tea break on 115 for three, West Indies looked to be flourishing when Jermaine Blackwood pulled Lyon and drove Pattinson for boundaries in moving to ten.
An error in judgement caused his downfall, however, offering no stroke to one from Lyon that ripped back to hit off stump with West Indies on 131 for four.
Kraigg Brathwaite added 27 for the fifth wicket with Ramdin before he too perished at the hands of Lyon, gloving a cut to captain Steve Smith at first slip off one that bounced.
Captain Jason Holder was brilliantly by Joe Burns at forward short leg for one, off a firm leg-side push off left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe.
Carlos Brathwaite then counter-attacked to pull the innings around.
The right-hander, who got a half-century on debut in the Melbourne second Test last week, blasted four fours and two sixes while Ramdin played a supporting role, facing 72 deliveries and counting two fours. (CMC)