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December 18, 2009
Nathan Hauritz looms as the key to Australia's victory hopes in Perth, where West Indies will need to follow the lead of South Africa last year to chase a hefty fourth-innings target. Sulieman Benn found some sharp turn in the final session on the third day as Australia struggled to 8 for 137, and Hauritz will be searching for similar spin to trouble West Indies.
Australia's lead had grown to 345 by stumps but in the back of their minds will be the chase this time last year, when AB de Villiers and JP Duminy took South Africa to a monstrous target of 414 with only four wickets down. On that occasion, Australia's spinner Jason Krejza leaked runs but Dwayne Bravo was in no doubt who Australia's main weapon could be this time.
"The wicket is playing pretty good," Bravo said. "It's not keeping low or anything like that. It's starting to turn a bit more, so I think Hauritz might play a big part for them in the second innings."
Hauritz will be encouraged by the two wickets for Benn on the third afternoon, especially a ball that turned and bounced significantly to catch the edge of Brad Haddin's bat. West Indies will also be hoping to capitalise on the pressure building on Australia to avoid a drawn series, and on individuals within the side. Hauritz always seems to be under the microscope despite solid performances over the past year, while the debutant Clint McKay will still be nervous following a wicketless first innings.
"We know the Australians are under a lot of pressure to perform well," Bravo said. "Some of the players in the team are also under pressure. That's good for us. We are looking forward to the challenge we have nothing to lose so were going to give it our best shot."
West Indies provided a remarkable fightback after they were dismissed with Australia still 208 runs in front, led by three wickets from Bravo and two from Benn. Australia remained in the ascendancy given their lead but Bravo was confident West Indies were still well and truly in the match.
"It's still balanced," he said. "We know the Australian team is a world-class team and 300-odd runs on the board, they have the self-belief in their bowling attack that they know they can take that and defend that. But we have the batters in our line-up also to chase down 360-plus runs with a day and a half to go. At this point in time we'd back ourselves to get that."
Doug Bollinger was a key man with the ball for Australia as he collected his maiden five-wicket haul to help dismiss West Indies for 312, and he could yet be an important player with the bat. Australia have two wickets in hand and will aim to add as many runs as they can. Bollinger jokingly said he'd like to set a target of 500 before unleashing Hauritz and the fast men.
"He's going to be pretty confident," Bollinger said of Hauritz. "As we saw, Benn bowled tonight and got a few to spin and bounce, which is a massive bonus for him. He'll just come out and bowl the way he normally does and the rest will look after itself. "
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