West Indies v Australia, 1st Test, Bridgetown, 3rd day April 9, 2012

Clarke fights but West Indies still on top


Australia 248 for 5 (Clarke 73, Hussey 47*) trail West Indies 449 for 9 dec by 201 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

West Indies remained firmly on top after three days of attritional cricket in Barbados, where Darren Sammy's early strikes and Devendra Bishoo's variations kept Australia's batsmen from making significant progress. At stumps on day three Australia were 248 for 5, with Michael Hussey on 47 and Matthew Wade on 19, and while they had almost passed the follow-on mark they were not yet safe in the match.

The big challenge for West Indies remained finding a way to turn their impressive performance into a victory. Rain again played a part on the third afternoon and their task for the final two days was to run through Australia's lower order quickly, bat again and set the visitors a target, and then skittle them a second time. The way this match has unfolded so far, that looked like it would be easier said than done.

But through Sammy and his colleagues West Indies had at least put themselves in the much stronger position. Last time the two sides met in a Caribbean Test series, the hosts had several days of inspired cricket but were unable to string together enough in one match to take a victory from Australia. This time they had started with two encouraging days, and worked through the third in the same fashion.

Michael Clarke provided Australia with a fighting half-century but threw his wicket away, while Shane Watson and David Warner also failed to capitalise on solid starts. Watson was also accountable for the ugly run-out of Ricky Ponting, a calamitous confusion that left Ponting fuming as he walked off the field.

The pair had come together after Sammy removed both openers in almost identical fashion, pitching the ball on off stump and nipping it away from the left-handers Warner and Ed Cowan. Cowan was on 14 when his thin edge found the wicketkeeper and Warner had made a promising start and had 42 when he edged to second slip, and Sammy's accuracy and persistence was impressive.

Those strikes were followed by the run-out of Ponting for 4 when Watson turned the ball behind square leg and took a single, and then called for the second, hesitated, and called Ponting through again. The throw from the deep to the wicketkeeper's end found a confused Ponting out of his ground as Watson loitered halfway down the pitch and Ponting's frustration was evident.

Watson was nearly involved in another run-out later when Clarke was saved only by a wayward throw. That, together with poor use of the review system, were the only real blemishes that could be attached to the West Indies fielding effort. Twice Watson survived lbw appeals that could easily have gone against him, once when he offered no shot to a prodigious inswinger from Sammy, who asked for a review and saw the replays show a perilously close prediction that had the ball hitting off stump, but only in the "umpire's call" zone.

In the next over, Kemar Roach appealed for lbw against Watson and also received a not-out verdict. This time Sammy decided against asking for a review but replays showed the ball would have struck enough of leg stump to have the decision overturned. West Indies wasted their second review after lunch when Sammy was off the ground and the vice-captain Kirk Edwards asked for the third umpire to check another Roach lbw appeal that was clearly sliding down leg.

But those errors of judgment didn't prove too costly. Watson threw his wicket away in the first over after lunch when he flashed impetuously at Roach and was caught behind for 39. It was hardly the innings Australia needed from Watson in his first Test batting at No.3. Clarke and Michael Hussey led a fightback with an 82-run partnership and they had to work hard against Bishoo, whose variations kept them from scoring freely.

Clarke used his feet against the legspinner and lofted him straight down the ground for six, but otherwise the Australians typically waited for poor balls from Bishoo and did the best they could to keep the good ones out. Clarke brought up his half-century from his 121st delivery with a fine cover-driven boundary from the part-time offspin of Narsingh Deonarine, and he was fortunate to have got there after a contentious review when he was on 27.

Clarke was adjudged caught behind off a Bishoo ball that stayed low and he immediately challenged the out decision from the umpire Tony Hill. Replays did not clearly show that he hit the ball but nor did there seem to be overwhelming evidence to overturn the call, but that was what happened and it was a serious let-off for Clarke.

Eventually, Bishoo had his reward when Clarke tried to clear long-off but succeeded only in skying a catch, and it was an unwise shot selection at a time when Clarke and Hussey needed to continue building their partnership. Hussey was more watchful and by stumps was approaching a half-century, and Wade struggled against Bishoo with a packed close-in field, but he was good enough to put away the bad balls when they came.

Bishoo's challenge on the fourth day will be to run through the tail, although with the new ball due Sammy will first turn to his fast men to do that job. And if they can manage it, victory will be a possibility, although a draw remains the more likely outcome.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Roo on April 11, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    @TheHoneymonster... Agree... At present the only likely way of getting Watto down to no.6 is for Hussey to be brought up the order - Hussey was an opener for many years in domestic cricket so is familiar with batting in the top order... Also Watto is prone to breaking down & losing a top order batsmen is much more detrimental to the team than losing a no.6/7 who can be replaced by another allrounder if need be...

  • Roo on April 11, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    @JG2704 :- "I'm sure WI fans would have been happier with a draw pre test than Aus fans"... I don't know if you realise it, but most Aussies would rather lose fighting for a win than go for the draw... For me a draw is worse than losing...

  • Andrew on April 11, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    @200ondebut - mate your easily pleased!

  • Robert on April 10, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    What a fascinating test this has been. On Sky HD it has been great to watch the excitement of the grass growing and the paint drying in between deliveries to the Aussie batsmen.

  • j on April 10, 2012, 15:24 GMT

    Clarke was out and Aus should have been 120-5. West Indies will have to ride out their bad luck, clearly Australia are there for the taking once again.

  • Sharon on April 10, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    @Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (April 10 2012, 11:15 AM GMT). "Michael Clarke at 3? HA! I wouldnt leave him in charge of a jelly" - pardon me - he IS in charge of a jelly.... @David Nelson - beat India, eh? So what - everyone is beating India these day.

  • Keiran on April 10, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    Another stinker of a DRS decision when Clarke was given not out. Nobody can tell for sure from any of the replays if there was a nick or not. That being the case, surely the standing umpires decision must remain.

    In any event I thought the replays were if anything, showing a little under edge. There was a noise at the right moment and from the side on angle it even looked like there may have been a deviation.

    I'd kill to have a beer with the umpires and hear how they came to that decision....

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2012, 12:52 GMT

    It's a mystery as to why this Australia side beat India so badly just a few months ago. Their ability shown so far on this tour is far below poor. I can't imagine this team matching up to England or South Africa, especiallyin the spinning department. This guy Lyons can't bowl six good consecutive deliveries even if his life depends on it. Old as Hogg is, he should be in this side along with Ponting & Hussey. Lyons is not Test Material by any means, so is Cowan or dare I say, Warner. West Indies deserves to win this one, and if Australia continues to preform like they did so far on this tour, win the series 3-0.

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    The key to the match is how quickly the Aussies can wipe off the deficit, if at all. WI have to control the run rate & at the same time take wks. How? Well, Roach at one end & Bishoo at the other. The Aussies r comfortable with Roach & will attack him in order to increase the run rate, hence mistakes r liable to be made. We must maintain a spin/pace attack thru out the day. No Roach/Fidel together. It is difficult for WI to lose so why not try to win it. Keep yr spinners at one end at all times. Deo is very capable agst the Aussies. And keep the fielding tight. Let's c how that works.

  • Dummy4 on April 10, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @RedWhiteArmy Clarke is the ICC number one batsman in the world and he's the Australian captain and Australia just beat India 4-0 in the last series and won the Tri-Nation one day series against Sri Lanka and India; the three top one day teams; I think he's doing alright, yeah?

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