09 April 2012
The Windies are well in control of this match. Who knows how different it could have been had our batsmen continued to show better patience and application against the Windies bowlers?
How costly could the run out of Ricky Ponting prove to be? What if Michael Clarke had resisted the temptation to take on Devendra Bishoo after such a well composed innings had been built?
These are some tough questions that cannot be answered just yet, but it doesn't point to a positive match position for Australia. Fortunately Michael Hussey is still out there with a determined debutant alongside him to try pull us back into this match. I will never get disheartened if Huss is still in the middle. The new ball is due to be taken as well and Huss will be able to handle that with confidence. Matt Wade will definitely be more at ease against the faster bowlers than the constant presence of spin bowling he had to negotiate.
Scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo.com
West Indies lead by 201 runs. Australia have 5 wickets in hand.
- West Indies 1st innings: 9-449 declared.
- Australia 1st innings: 5-248. Michael Clarke 73, Michael Hussey 47*, David Warner 42, Shane Watson 39, Matt Wade 19*.
Ed Cowan and David Warner managed a fifty run opening partnership but it was short lived as Ed Cowan nudged at a ball from Darren Sammy to be caught behind. It was a delivery he could have left. Seeing Ed walk off you could sense his total disappointment with his dismissal. He could have avoided that shot.
David Warner was on his way to a confident half-century having shown us some fluent shots and powerful off-side stroke play. Unfortunately, like Cowan, he flashed at a delivery he could have watched sail on by. Warner had been in control and it took that one delivery to allow the Windies to control the match. It's the first time in his Test career that he's been dismissed in the forties and it was definitely an opportunity missed for David Warner to make the crowds aware that the Twenty20 specialist is still in the Caribbean to dominate in the most intense form of the game. It was a start though.
Shane Watson's dismissal was also brought about by a loose shot as he edged one behind in the first over after tea against the pace of Kemar Roach. Watto was put in to bat at three and the reason I do like him at the top of the order is that the newer ball seems better suited for his style of batting. His raw power and key areas of play allow him the advantage that with the hard new ball if he times it right he finds the boundary with ease. As the ball gets wear and tear and the game play changes, he's usually well settled to adjust his game. Having him nestled down the order is good as well but he does seem best suited higher up the order. The worry though is that the run out ordeal continues!
Ricky Ponting has had an annoying start to his series. He's dropped two catches, which were tough but certainly chances he'd expect to have taken by his standards. To make it worse, Shane Watson ran him out for just 4 runs. Punter didn't get out on his own terms and was left stranded and confused with Watto's bizarre calling in the middle. It is not the first time Watto has been involved in a run out situation and not the first time he is the guilty partner for the chaos.
He played the ball behind square leg, jogged for the first run. After assessing the situation he darted off for the second run, but Ricky Ponting was set on remaining at the strikers end with his back to him. The ball was retrieved and Punter realised Watto was charging to his end for the second run. The call hadn't been heard. Punter set off in panic mode but then Watto made the biggest mistake by hesitating and being indecisive. He backed down, Punter ran on, Punter gave up, Watto looked lost and Carlton Baugh dislodged the bails. Run out, 3 wickets down...trouble!
It's frustrating to see run outs in Test cricket, especially when Punter has now been run out in *15 innings during his career. It's even worse when the situation wasn't desperate in any way whatsoever for the second run.
Watto managed to bat on a bit but he was clearly burdened by the situation and he didn't look confident at all, despite having played some really good shots. He struck 5 fours and 1 six during his innings of 39 runs.
In Watto's book he made mention of the run out problems and admitted he'd been responsible for a number of them. Hopefully this won't haunt him too much so he can stay focused on the job at hand for this Test.
There was some hope as Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey got stuck into the Windies bowlers. They did a damn good job as the track lost a fair bit of bounce and the spin bowlers targeted the roughed up areas. Bishoo was a handful and even when he pitched the ball short, both the batsmen had to be really alert for the ball that dragged low. A review in this situation saved Clarkey from a potential caught behind.
The two managed to take us to 215 runs, until Michael Clarke tossed away his superb innings of 73 runs...hard earned runs! He decided to try and loft Bishoo but for the situation it wasn't required as he'd already shown control having survived 172 deliveries. He just didn't get to the pitch of it as he needed to.
Clarkey's foot work had been a joy to watch and he'd been up for the challenges presented from Bishoo and Deonarine. He blasted a glorious six earlier on in his innings which was just picture perfect Clarke in the heat of the battle. He'd played some sensational cover drives and off drives as well. I really thought we were in for a treat from the Skipper.
He scored a special century upon his arrival for the 2008 series and I thought we'd maybe see another in 2012 with Clarkey as our skipper. He had batted so well to get the team back on track and it was another sign of his leadership and step up at the elite level when the team needed his input. Sadly it wasn't to be and he knew he'd blown it as soon as he carried out that shot that led to his dismissal. So frustrating because he was set to play on.
Enter the debutant Matt Wade. It took Matt just two deliveries to get off the mark in Test cricket with a four as he gave himself room to smack one through the covers. His batting career has begun.
He played the spinners with far better understanding by the looks of it and had a definite game plan. It was a massive turnaround after his struggles during the ODI series against the spin of Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels. He used the crease far better and was quick with his bat speed to either defend or attack. He had Michael Hussey as his partner, settled in the thirties, and if he needed a partner in a situation of urgency for survival and hard grafting, Huss is the man you want to be out there with you! Welcome to Test cricket.
Huss also took his time as he went about his business, initially leading the rescue mission with Clarkey. Any chance to blast a pull shot, Huss was right there to muscle it away. He was sharp as always running between the wickets and no matter who bowled at him, he was able to find the gaps. This sounds very much like his one day cricket approach, but there was still unbelievable focus from him and solid defence.
He was able to score all around the ground, with boundaries coming from off and on side stroke play. A really dangerous sign for the Windies ahead of this series!
After some momentum began to build during the Wade and Hussey partnership, bad light was offered and the boys took it. 95 overs have been bowled and we're 201 runs behind. 5 wickets remain in the bag and well done to Huss and Wadey for getting us through that final session of play.
Kudos to the West Indies. They're foxing us and have worked exceptionally well as a unit. They took their catches, were sharp at all times and were able to project a confident energy out there. It was actually a bit intimidating at times.
At the same time Justin Langer will be gutted with what he saw as batting coach. The camera that panned in on him would suggest this. Granted, the Windies took their wickets and that's all that matters. It's not always about the respect for earning the wickets but rather just getting them any way possible. Our top order gifted the Windies their wickets and allowed them to take the game by the throat with a monstrous lead under the circumstances. It was the big gap between the summer against India and the 1st innings of this series.
Our batting depth is what kept the optimism alive but the work for the middle order was cut out after three shots out of character and a horrible run out made the situation sour.
The players will have plenty going on in their heads and will be livid with the situation.
The Windies are in control but our players allowed them to take an unexpected control of the game with the drop catches in the 1st innings, our bowlers struggling to clear out the tail enders and then the "cheap dismissals.
This is Test cricket though and it's definitely not all doom and gloom out there for the Baggy Greens!
The West Indies chewed up valuable match time to compile their 1st innings total of 449 runs. This game has two days left, in which time they still need to dismiss us for the 1st innings. Then they need to bowl us out again in the 2nd innings and this will quite likely be after they have been back out there with their bats in hand. All of this has to be done in just 2 days where we've already seen bad light and scattered rain play a role in game delay.
It'll be a mighty tough contest for the Baggy Greens but they're certainly not down and out, but it's certainly an unwanted situation they've put themselves into. A trail by 201 runs with 5 wickets is a pressure situation.
Anyone also upset we didn't get to see Ricky Ponting versus Kemar Roach?
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