West Indies v Australia 2008 / News

West Indies v Australia, 3rd Test, Barbados, 2nd day

Australia on top after Johnson's strikes

The Report by Brydon Coverdale

June 13, 2008

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Australia 251 (Symonds 52, Taylor 3-46, Edwards 3-55, Bravo 3-61) and 35 for 0 lead West Indies 216 (Chanderpaul 79*, Johnson 4-41, Lee 3-64) by 70 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
How they were out


Shivnarine Chanderpaul was the rock for West Indies yet again © Getty Images
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Shivnarine Chanderpaul was immovable with a half-century, Brett Lee was fast and fiery, Australia's main spinner failed and West Indies' tail crumbled. It could have been almost any day of the current Test series, except that Mitchell Johnson located his long-lost radar to finish with a career-best 4 for 41 as the first lively pitch of the tour helped bowlers from both sides snare 13 wickets in an eventful three sessions.

The day began with Australia trying to eke out late runs in their first innings and finished with them extending their lead in the second innings, in between dismissing a confident looking West Indies for 216. At the close Australia were 35 for 0 with Phil Jaques on 13 and Simon Katich on 17 and they had worked their way 70 runs in front of West Indies, who need some quick breakthroughs on the third day to ensure the match does not slip away.

For a while during the middle of the afternoon it looked like Australia would not even have a first-innings lead as the aggressive approach from both teams even infected the usually sedate Chanderpaul. He and Dwayne Bravo put together a 60-run partnership that took West Indies to 168 for 4 and, with the debutant spinner Beau Casson struggling and Johnson seemingly a write-off after a woeful opening spell, Ricky Ponting looked worried.

Perhaps in hope more than anything, he threw the ball to Johnson for a second attempt and suddenly something changed. Johnson has spent most of the series testing how far Brad Haddin can dive in either direction, but with a straighter line he was dangerous. Bravo (29) gloved a leg-side catch behind and was given out by Mark Benson, the same umpire who denied him a similar appeal against Andrew Symonds on the first day.

From there the lower order was vulnerable to Johnson and Lee, who peppered them. The deliveries had to be darn short to get up around the head of Sulieman Benn, who at 201 centimetres looked like a startled giraffe when he narrowly avoided a helmet-rattler from Lee. It was Johnson who had Benn caught behind and he also claimed Denesh Ramdin and Fidel Edwards caught in the cordon, not to mention having two sitters put down by Katich at first slip. Chanderpaul did not help matters by happily taking singles to put a weak tail on strike and he finished on 79, not out for the third consecutive time.

What he did manage, though, was to make Casson's first spell in Tests memorable for the wrong reasons. Casson started with some quicker deliveries pushed through to Chanderpaul but the beaming grin he has been wearing throughout his debut soon disappeared when his first three balls to Bravo flew back past him for six, four and four. Even Chanderpaul then pounced on a seemingly unconfident Casson, planting his front foot down the pitch for a straight slogged six and cracking three more fours to send Casson packing with 18 off his last over.

Chanderpaul had also enjoyed some short and wide gifts during Johnson's initial spell, when his first four overs cost 31. Twice in one over Chanderpaul dispatched Johnson to the boundary with confident pulls and Ponting had some concerns as the fast-bowling load was again falling back on Lee. Fortunately for Australia, Lee was having fun with by far the most helpful pitch he has seen on the trip.

A microcosm of the match came in a mini-battle between Lee and Xavier Marshall, who also had a good-natured tussle in Antigua. Marshall once again refused to back down against some fast and fiery bowling and despite taking two blows to the helmet from Lee, he had enough confidence to dispatch him for a string of drives through the off side to the boundary.

It was typical of both top orders over the past two days as batsmen from both sides aimed to use the speed of the ball to their advantage with aggressive and exciting strokeplay. Marshall looked to be getting the better of Australia when Symonds' medium pace tied West Indies down with four consecutive maidens, resulting in a soft dismissal when Marshall chipped to Casson at midwicket.

That gave Australia their only success during a slightly calmer session than the pre-lunch period. The two attacks shared the fast conditions in the morning, West Indies knocking over Australia's tail within an hour before Lee and Stuart Clark both made inroads into the hosts' top order. Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan both looked powerful until falling to cracking catches, Gayle snared by a goalkeeper-style take from Casson at mid-off and Sarwan removed by a diving grab from Michael Hussey at gully.

Lee had also sucked Sewnarine Chattergoon into a tickle behind and the quick breakthroughs showed just how important it was for West Indies to have restricted Australia, who added 25 for the loss of their last three wickets in the morning. Edwards and Taylor bowled fast and found swing, finishing with three victims each as Australia edged their way to 251.

Even that early in the day it was clear the frenetic finale to an intriguing series was set to continue. At least the rapid pace of action meant there was little chance the first draw between the two sides in 13 years, which was sealed in Antigua ten days ago, would be closely followed by the second.

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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