April 21, 2003

Australia take lead of 199 into the fourth day in Trinidad

West Indies saved the follow-on on the third day at Port-of-Spain ... just. Daren Ganga and Marlon Samuels batted well, but the lower order couldn't keep up the momentum and the innings folded for 408. Australia took a handy first-innings lead of 168, and extended that to one short of 200 for the loss of Justin Langer in an uncharacteristically restrained hour's batting before the close.

It took some time, but Australia eventually worked their way through the West Indian batting order. Steve Waugh hasn't batted in this match yet, and won't mind too much if he misses out tomorrow as well. On a belter of a pitch, albeit one showing signs of occasional uneven bounce and offering substantial turn, Waugh will be looking to push that lead towards 400 before letting his fast men off the leash again.

Ganga's century, his second in successive Test innings after 17 matches without one, gave West Indies hope in the first session. The spinners, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg, were turning the ball appreciably, but Ganga picked them with great certainty, apart from the odd rush of blood, building on his century at Georgetown. He cracked 15 fours and a six in his century,

It was Ganga's second Test hundred, and his first at home in Trinidad. Ironically Brian Lara, who was out for 91 late on the second day, has yet to reach three figures in 10 Tests on his home island. Some estimates had it that 5000 extra people might have ventured to the ground on this Easter Monday if Lara had still been batting.

Ganga had 117 by lunch, but failed to add to his score afterwards. Brett Lee, armed with the new ball, moved one away from him - the perfect pacy outswinger - and Matthew Hayden clutched a screamer into his midriff (279 for 5). The new batsman, the debutant David Bernard, played straight enough despite being clunked on the head by a Lee bouncer that flew off for four leg-byes, but had made only 7 when Jason Gillespie threaded one through the gate and knocked back his off stump (300 for 6).

Samuels, who made two single-figure scores in the first Test, was sketchy at first against Lee, but blossomed later, unfurling some deadeye drives. One over from Hogg cost 14, including an off-drive that blistered to the boundary, followed by a huge six over the cycle-track into the crowd at long-on. At 47 Samuels was caught by Hayden at first slip off Andy Bichel, but it was a no-ball. He sauntered to a half-century, in 130 minutes, in the next over.

At the other end another new cap, the diminutive wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh, played a breezy innings. In the first match of the Australians' tour Baugh bagged a century for the President's XI in Georgetown. Here he played some breezy strokes and helped Samuels put on 67, but at 19, off what turned out to be the last ball before tea, he demolished his own stumps trying an extravagant cut (367 for 7). It was MacGill's 100th Test wicket, in only his 21st match.

West Indies nibbled nervously at the tea-time sandwiches, needing 10 to save the follow-on. Samuels fell for 68 with the lead exactly 200, chipping a catch to the incoming Bichel at long-off (376 for 8). Vasbert Drakes earned a huge cheer for the vital single, and although he soon lost Merv Dillon - lbw to Jason Gillespie for his 25th Test duck (384 for 9) - Drakes set the Trini Posse jiving with two huge sixes off Hogg, one of which nearly reached the TV commentary box.

Drakes was eventually trapped in front, a fourth wicket for Lee. Despite the extravagant turn the spinners extracted at times, it was the fast men that did the damage: Gillespie was also waspish and wasted little. West Indies may have saved the follow-on, but they haven't saved this match yet.