April 20, 2003

Ponting ploughs on and on

After a soul-destroying first day at the Queen's Park Oval, West Indies resumed the second Test against Australia with a heavy air of resignation. With nearly 400 runs on the board already, and with Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist champing at the bit, early wickets were nothing less than a necessity.

In that respect, Brian Lara's early approach was somewhat perverse. The new ball was ready and waiting for West Indies, but instead of revving up his pacemen, Lara turned to the diffident offspin of Marlon Samuels, as Ponting and Gilchrist settled in for a 25-minute net.

Ponting duly eased Samuels off his legs to trot through to his third score of 150 in eight Tests, and it was only when Vasbert Drakes rapped him on the knuckles with a mischievous lifter, that Lara was prompted to change his approach.

At least yesterday's flow of boundaries was stemmed - today's first didn't arrive until the eighth over, a Drakes half-tracker that Ponting swatted through his favourite midwicket region. Although the pitch continued to show the odd sign of unevenness, a long, hot and bothersome day was in prospect for the West Indians.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo in London.