Queensland v West Indians, tour match, Brisbane, 3rd day November 20, 2009

Dowlin and Barath lift West Indians' spirits

West Indians 271 and 1 for 133 (Barath 65*, Dowlin 53) trail Queensland 7 for 617 (Kruger 172, Reardon 147, Townsend 100, Simpson 73) by 213 runs

The openers Travis Dowlin and Adrian Barath provided the best news of the tour for the struggling West Indians as they reached 1 for 133 at stumps on the third day. Since the squad arrived in Brisbane last week they have lost their captain Chris Gayle, who flew to Jamaica to be with his sick mother, and received a tough initiation in their opening tour game against Queensland. Ramnaresh Sarwan, one of the two leading batsmen, has also been told by his doctor to stay off the field due to an infection.

So after the Bulls declared at 7 for 617, with a lead of 346, the tourists needed something to cheer and Dowlin and Barath provided it during a 95-run opening stand. With Gayle increasingly unlikely to be back in Australia before Thursday's first Test, the side is desperate for the remaining openers in the squad to be in form. The team management is still waiting to learn when Gayle is likely to return and the selectors are expected to meet over the weekend to consider possible replacements and whether to extend the outfit to 16 men for the three-Test series.

Life has been tough and will become harder when they run into an Australia side preparing for their first series since the Ashes defeat. Dowlin, who went for 2 in the first innings, backed up with a much more authoritative display, striking seven boundaries in his 53 before he was caught behind off the unstoppable Nathan Reardon.

Barath is expected to make his debut next week and he followed his first-day duck with a composed 65. He was dropped by Chris Hartley on 34 but held on to make it to stumps, taking advantage of some loose bowling by the legspinner Dan Doran to increase his boundary tally to nine.

Reardon's 147 was the major problem for the tourists on the third day as he became the third local batsman to register a maiden first-class century in the innings. Kemar Roach, the 21-year-old fast bowler, continued to run in hard despite his side's situation and returned 3 for 135 from 32 overs, but he did not receive much help from his team-mates, who wilted against a modest batting line-up.

The day began well for them when Hartley (12) edged a Roach short ball in the third over, but they were soon being pummelled by Reardon's muscular stroke-play. Reardon, a 25-year-old in his second four-day game, joined Nick Kruger (172) and Wade Townsend (100) in raising centuries, which was only the second time in Australia three players have achieved their maiden first-class hundreds in the same innings. Reardon resumed on 45 and sped towards his century, equalling a state record with his seven sixes while taking advantage of the mediocre offerings.

He was particularly brutal against the left-arm spin of Sulieman Benn, who was lashed for two sixes in one over and later launched on to the roof of Queensland Cricket's offices at midwicket. Another Reardon sweep off Benn cleared the fence and the hitting was so strong that the bull mascot sitting in the back of a caged ute was asking to go back to the farm. After lunch he also pulled a tiring Roach high into the Matthew Hayden Stand before eventually falling caught behind to Dwayne Bravo.

Chris Simpson, the captain, also blasted one on to the office roof off Ravi Rampaul, who continued to find life in Australia difficult. He was not the only one. Benn gave up 151 runs in 34 overs and Rampaul went for 131 in 29, while Bravo and Narsingh Deonarine also failed to make much of an impact. Simpson and Reardon clumped 156 in 30.4 overs for the sixth wicket before Simpson was bowled by Roach on 73, but the tourists were kept waiting before the innings was closed 40 minutes before tea. They needed the break.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo