December 16, 2000

West Indies revival continues in evenly poised Test

Three late wickets have taken some of the shine off Australia's bright beginning to the run chase at stumps on day two of the Third Test against West Indies at the Adelaide Oval.

After bringing an end to the 156-run opening stand between Matthew Hayden (58) and Michael Slater (83) in the thirty-eighth over, the tourists went on to claim two more batsmen to leave the game evenly poised.

At stumps, Australia is 3/180, with Mark Waugh (10*) and nightwatchman Jason Gillespie (2*) at the crease. The team needs another 211 runs to reach the West Indian first innings total of 391.

After finishing their innings early in the second session, the West Indies watched helplessly as Slater and Hayden piled on the runs. The two scored at well in excess of four runs per over, belting the attack to all parts of the ground.

Slater, in particular, took to the task of overcoming the fairly solid total with gusto, hunting down as opposed to merely chasing the runs. Playing his usual array of exciting shots, the right-hander was at his finest against the often short and wide bowling of Mervyn Dillon, whom he despatched to the fence for four of his eight boundaries.

After a somewhat scratchy beginning where he was beaten a couple of times by Courtney Walsh, Slater soon found his rhythm, bringing up his eighteenth Test half-century in style when a Dillon delivery was crashed through the covers to the fence.

Playing more of a supportive role, Hayden was not to be outdone, also smashing eight boundaries on his way to fifty-eight. The way he brought up Australia's hundred with a powerful sweep through mid wicket looked ominous for the tourists.

The pair notched up their 150 runs in just 159 minutes and it looked like they could bat forever. Windies' captain Jimmy Adams brought himself onto the attack, and tried Test debutant Marlon Samuels' off-breaks in the hope of a breakthrough. But like the others before them, they failed too. None of the six bowlers tried so far ever really looked like breaking the stellar partnership.

In the end, they got the wicket in the only other way possible, by running out Hayden. For the second time in the series, the Queenslander squandered a good start; for the second time, he was run out following a misunderstanding between himself and Slater.

Just four runs later, it was Slater who made his way back to the cool of the dressing rooms, after he cut a a Samuels long hop straight to substitute fielder Ramnaresh Sarwan at point.

Having begun his Test career just a couple of hours earlier batting alongside Brian Lara (182), nineteen-year-old Samuels now had a wicket to complement his composed innings of thirty-five.

Soon, he had more reason to rejoice, snaring the wicket of an out-of-sorts Justin Langer (6) for his third single-figure score of the series. Langer was caught at slip by Lara, attempting to cut a fairly harmless looking delivery.

In between the two wickets, Waugh began his 106th Test innings, with a majestic drive off Samuels presenting the teenager with a little dose of reality. Samuels nonetheless still finished with figures of 2/25 off his 11 overs, easily the best of the tourists' attack.

Earlier, the West Indians were bowled out for 391, not long after Lara's wonderful innings came to a close at 182. The gutsy innings from the beleaguered star, which included twenty-nine fours and one six, was at the heart of the tourists' highest total of the summer.

For Australia, Gillespie (5/89) and Lara's conqueror Colin Miller (5/81) each grabbed a five-wicket haul, while the usually menacing Glenn McGrath (0/83) was unlucky to finish wicketless.