Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day

Watson leads Australia's strong reply

The Report by Brydon Coverdale at Adelaide Oval

December 5, 2009

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Australia 0 for 174 (Watson 96*, Katich 71*) trail West Indies 451 (Bravo 104, Nash 92, Chanderpaul 62, Johnson 3-105) by 277 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Shane Watson plays straight, Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 5 December, 2009
Shane Watson dominated the second half of the day with 96 not out © Getty Images

Shane Watson and Brendan Nash were team-mates at Queensland three seasons ago. Now Test opponents, their contrasting ninety-somethings on the second day kept the century-old scoreboard at the Adelaide Oval whirring as both Australia and West Indies racked up hefty numbers that ensured both teams were still in the contest with three days to play.

Watson will have a restless night after finishing unbeaten on 96, an innings that he hopes will prove he has the ability to be a long-term Test opener. Nash nudged and ground his way to 92 and guided West Indies to an impressive 451, which was their highest total in a Test innings against Australia since the tail-end of their glory years 17 seasons ago.

It was a frustration for Australia as the final four West Indies partnerships added 178 but the hosts soon discovered that their own batsmen could use the flat surface to their advantage just as easily. Watson and Simon Katich combined for their first century stand as a Test opening pair and at stumps were 0 for 174.

Katich had reached 71 by the close, having played back-up to Watson's centre-stage performance, although he did take the spotlight on one occasion when he slog-swept Sulieman Benn for six. There was no doubt that the second half of the day belonged to Watson, who struck 16 boundaries to Katich's five.

Watson entered the match having made a duck in his only innings at the Gabba and keen to prove to his doubters that he can handle the new ball in five-day cricket. He concentrated hard to avoid falling victim to his perceived weakness, the delivery angling in to his pads, and he reached fifty for the fourth time as a Test opener with a safe late-cut for four off Dwayne Bravo.

There were moments of discomfort, like when he tried to hook a Ravi Rampaul bouncer and suffered a painful blow to the midriff, but he didn't lose confidence. The next ball after the thump from Rampaul he stepped across and crunched a drive through cover-point to the boundary, giving the bowler no time to assert any authority.

Technically, Watson is a sound batsman and has the ability to stay at the crease for long periods. But he proved himself first as a one-day opener and the attacking mindset remained as he found the boundary regularly, including three fours from five deliveries in the over before tea from Darren Sammy.

Watson has a certain flair that his former Queensland colleague Nash doesn't quite possess, but that should by no means detract from Nash's efforts in Adelaide. His one-time flat-mate Mitchell Johnson forced Nash to retire hurt on the opening day with a nasty strike to the forearm and Johnson provided another blow to the same spot before lunch on the second day.

But Nash fought through the challenges in a circumspect manner and continued West Indies' theme of redemption after Brisbane, where he had been scratchy. He ticked the score over with singles and cut Johnson confidently for a pair of fours, never becoming too bogged down as had been the case at the Gabba.

Just as Watson needed this innings to show himself to be a quality Test opener, Nash required a significant contribution to prove that he deserved his place ahead of Travis Dowlin, who was unlucky to be dropped. Eventually Nash was the last man out for 92, disappointed at missing the chance for a second Test hundred when he misjudged a ball from Johnson that nipped back in and rattled his stumps.

By then, he had overseen a lower-order resistance that added 115 to the visitors' overnight total and gave them their highest Test innings against Australia since Brian Lara's unforgettable 277 at the SCG in 1992-93 set up a score of 606. He also combined in a West Indies Test record 68-run partnership for the tenth wicket with Rampaul, whose entertaining 40 not out featured one monstrous six over long-on off Watson.

The Australians had earlier been frustrated by a 44-run stand from Nash and Sulieman Benn, who scuppered Australia's hopes of a quick kill after they claimed a wicket with the first ball of the day. The TV official Bruce Oxenford was in the action immediately having taken over from Asad Rauf, who was forced onto the field to replace the unwell Mark Benson.

Sammy was lbw to Peter Siddle for 44 to start the morning and Oxenford was asked to review the decision. It was one of only four wickets to fall throughout the day, which will almost certainly mean a five-day Test after the three-day affair in Brisbane.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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