Bravo holds up Australian victory push
Australia 3 for 551 declared and 3 for 179 (Smith 70*, Khawaja 56) lead West Indies 271 (Bravo 81, Brathwaite 59, Lyon 4-66, Pattinson 4-72) by 459 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia are still highly likely to win this match, but they must now work much harder to do so than had once seemed likely. A muted third day at the MCG was defined by the dead bat of Darren Bravo, and the uncharacteristic generosity of several Australian cricketers who let standards slip in the face of an outmatched opponent.
Helped in large part by the debutant Carlos Brathwaite, maker of a daring and dicey 59, Bravo was able to shepherd the West Indies tail from their overnight 6 for 91 to an unexpectedly sizeable 271 - in all they added 188, Bravo 81 of these in more than five hours of bloody-minded defiance. Importantly, he kept the hosts in the field for more than 100 overs, dissuading their captain Steven Smith from sending the visitors in again despite a big lead.
A major factor in the West Indies' prolonged first innings was a pair of no-balls by James Pattinson, which twice reprieved Brathwaite before lunch. Nathan Lyon and Pattinson shared eight wickets between them, but the Victorian fast man was undisciplined in landing his foot beyond the crease line, no-balled when he burst through Brathwaite on 13, and again when the allrounder hooked to fine leg to be caught on 50. Wordlessly, but unmistakably, Smith expressed his disapproval.
There was to be a similar level of profligacy in the evening as David Warner and Usman Khawaja squandered starts with shots too clever by half after Joe Burns had perished to the new ball. Their dismissals did at least allow for the underemployed Mitchell Marsh to walk to the middle and accompany a typically efficient Smith to stumps.
When the day began, Australia still had thoughts of a quick four wickets, a follow-on and a hat-trick of Test matches over inside three days after Adelaide Oval's day-nighter and the mismatch at Bellerive. Pattinson commenced with a still reversing ball and was soon celebrating the exit of Brathwaite, who used his height to good effect when not aiming ambitious blows more at home in the BBL.
However replays showed Pattinson had overstepped comfortably, and the good fortune allowed Brathwaite to carry on while Bravo stuck to the crease like a limpet. More expansive in Hobart when cracking a first innings hundred, Bravo had been coaxed to drag a drive onto his stumps in the second, and this time seemed determined simply to bat for as long as possible.
He allowed himself a few more liberties as Brathwaite became increasingly secure, and another Pattinson no-ball prevented a look at the tail before the end of the session. It was only on the stroke of lunch that the hosts were able to strike, Lyon teasing out a return catch from Brathwaite while working around the wicket.
Even so, the partnership served to keep the West Indian innings alive for long enough to leave Smith questioning the wisdom of enforcing the follow-on in search of a rapid innings victory. He was to discount the possibility entirely once Bravo kept the remainder of the tail in the field for all but a few minutes of the afternoon session, with Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Jomel Warrican all contributing runs and time at the crease.
Lyon and Pattinson bowled well throughout, the spinner rewarded for his flight, loop and spin while the paceman followed up well from his five wicket haul in the second innings of the Hobart Test. However he will curse the overstepping before lunch that has served primarily to see this match into a fourth day.
Granted the chance to get back out into the field, the West Indians made a bright start. Holder shared the new ball with Taylor and moved it both ways off the seam and in the air. Burns was confounded by the one-two punch of a nip-backer that struck his back thigh and then a tantalising away swinger that he was drawn into edging to second slip.
Warner, so eager to make a hundred in this match, was on the way to doing so before trying to glide a Brathwaite short ball that merited a little more respect. Holder claimed the catch, and then took a tumble as the debutant's exuberantly awkward celebration did not quite calculate the angle and height of the catcher - cause for laughter all round.
Khawaja was silkiness personified in cruising to another half-century, and looked for all the world like no one could contain him. Yet it was this very feeling of security that contributed to an overambitious paddle attempt that drew a touch behind to Denesh Ramdin. Like Khawaja, Australia still have some work to do.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig