Australia’s top-order charges in centre-wicket session to lift lead to 433


Australia’s top-order charges in centre-wicket session to lift lead to 433

Australia 136 for 3 (Khawaja 45, Chase 2-25) & 511 for 7 dec (Head 175, Labuschagne 163, Thomas 2-53) lead West Indies 214 (Chanderpaul 47, Philli

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Australia 136 for 3 (Khawaja 45, Chase 2-25) & 511 for 7 dec (Head 175, Labuschagne 163, Thomas 2-53) lead West Indies 214 (Chanderpaul 47, Phillip 43, Lyon 3-57) by 433 runs

The last thing West Indies’ injury-riddled tour needed was self-inflicted wounds but that’s exactly what they delivered with two calamitous run-outs buckling the visitors to a paltry first innings total of 214 before Australia opted for batting practice and resting their bowlers, piling up a lead of 433 by Tea on the third evening in Adelaide.

West Indies’ two top scorers, opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul and nightwatchman Anderson Phillip, had fought bravely to get through a difficult night session on the second night only to be run out in two farcical mix-ups on the third afternoon.

Nathan Lyon also extracted sharp spin to pick up two wickets and finish with three in the innings with West Indies bowled out on the stroke of dinner. Mitchell Starc bagged two in an extended session that lasted longer than it should have after Australia missed three catches behind the wicket.

Despite a 297-run lead Australia did not enforce the follow on after the break and Usman Khawaja and David Warner cruised to an opening stand of 77 before both perished to loose strokes in the same Roston Chase over but the lead had swelled to 433 by tea, creating the possibility of bowling again on the third evening.

West Indies’ day started with Chanderpaul run out in the opening over of the day without adding to his overnight score of 47. He defended a ball close into the off side and took for a quick single but Phillip did not respond leaving Chanderpaul scrambling to return to safety. Starc, having delivered from around the wicket, raced across to his right and opened his body superbly to fire with his left hand and hit the middle of middle from close range with Chanderpaul’s full-length dive not enough to save him.

Jason Holder was out two overs later edging a full ball from Starc that tailed away and Alex Carey took an excellent catch low to his right.

Phillip and Joshua Da Silva then mounted a positive rearguard putting together a brisk 60-run stand in 13 overs. The strokeplay was aggressive despite the running between the wickets remaining questionable. Playing in just his second Test match, Phillip had only reached double figures in ten of his previous 30 first-class innings with a highest score of 36 not out.

He struck five boundaries and a six to post his highest first-class score while Da Silva looked secure and rotated the strike well and was only threatened by Phillip’s lackadaisical running. Da Silva could have been run out at the striker’s end after Phillip made a very late call to take a single to mid-off but the throw from Michael Neser was wide of the stumps.

Phillip nearly ran himself out having lazily grounded his bat short of his ground when Marnus Labuschagne missed an attempt to break the stumps after gathering a wide throw. It would have been no surprise given he was penalised for running one short earlier in the partnership.

Da Silva was pinned lbw by Lyon playing deep in his crease to a ball that spun back sharply. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena initially shook his head but Australia’s review overturned the call as it was hitting the top of middle.

Phillip finally ran himself out when Chase ignored a needless call for a single after a misfield at cover. The ball ricocheted to Labuschagne at mid-off. Phillip came halfway down before turning back after Chase called no. Labuschagne’s throw at the striker’s end missed but Carey had time to collect and underarm onto the stumps as he was still running up from his keeping position.

Alzarri Joseph fell in a carbon copy of Da Silva’s decision with Lyon getting Dharmasena to raise his finger the second time.

Chase and Marquino Mindley frustrated the Australians with a last-wicket stand 43. Mindley fought admirably given he was batting with a hamstring injury flicking Starc for six over backward square. Carey, Warner and Labuschagne all missed chances behind the wicket off sharp edges with Cameron Green denied twice.

Australia’s batters enjoyed a centre-wicket in the second session twilight with Khawaja in particular cashing in on a tiring West Indies attack. Warner looked less fluent having edged his first ball just short of first slip. He started to find the middle of the bat only to fall to another complacent square drive. On surface that was spinning, he tried to drive Chase’s first ball on the up and dragged an inside edge onto his stumps for 28. Khawaja fell for 45 attempting the same shot two balls later nicking one that spun and bounced with Da Silva completing a good catch.

Labuschagne and Steven Smith feasted on the spin of Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite thereafter with a relentless array of sweeps and reverse sweeps. Labuschagne raced past 500 runs in the series, becoming the second Australian behind Matthew Hayden to score that many in a two-Test series. Labuschagne fell on the stroke of tea for 31 guiding Phillip straight to gully.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo