25 April 2012
The West Indies managed to put up some resistance against our bowlers as Shivnarine Chanderpaul found supportin the lower order to log another half-century to his high quality career for the West Indies. It wasn't enough to pull the major advantage away from us as the lead was 110 runs in our favor. The lead is now 310 runs.
The wicket hasn't been the easiest to score on - Matt Wade was an exception - so with the lead currently at 310 runs, it's strongly in the Baggy Greens grasp with two days to go.
Full scorecard via ESPN Cricinfo.com
Australian 1st innings: 328 all out. Matthew Wade 106, David Warner 50, Shane Watson 41.
West Indies 1st innings: 218 all out. Nathan Lyon 4-69, Mitchell Starc 2-29, Ben Hilfenhaus 1-30.
Australian 2nd innings: 6-200. Ricky Ponting 57, Ed Cowan 55, Michael Hussey 17*, Ryan Harris 4*.
As mentioned already, it wasn't easy for the bowlers to remove the Windies lower order batsmen who partnered with Shiv Chanderpaul but they manage to dismiss them and kept the lead over 100 runs.
Nathan Lyon managed 4 wickets for the innings and used the conditions similarly to Shane Shillingford. Having had to work like a dog in the 1st Test, it's great to see Nathan get the rewards in the last two Tests.
It was up to the batsmen in their last dig before the end of the series. It is a long break until the next series so it will have a few players playing guessing games as to how things will shape up until then.
David Warner and Shane Watson have had frustrating performances with the bat purely on a basis of personal understanding as both of them know what their abilities suggest. They've both made runs (Watto adding some valuable contributions), had innings where they looked good but got out with soft dismissals or just an unusual manner. Fortunately for them a lead was in place but it's certainly going to extremely frustrating for the two of them to look back on what could have been.
In their defense it has not been a series for the batsmen by any means. It has also been testing for all our batsmen and only three of the current players - Ponting, Hussey and Clarke - have played Test cricket in the Caribbean. No one is loudly knocking on the door for their places so I hope they will be able to look back on this series and better their games and overcome any definite weaknesses they identified.
Warner was dismissed caught behind in every one of his innings which gives Justin Langer a bit of work to look into. He has time on his side to better himself as an opening batsman and JL is the guy to learn from.
As for Watto, it seems to be a mental aspect of his game which can only be fixed in the heat of the battle.
Having come under a fair bit of criticism I will always back my team until they're given the boot by the selectors. So in Ed Cowan's case I am really glad he stood up and took on the challenge and responsibility to hold the fort after Warner and Watto were dismissed. He was joined by Ricky Ponting in what was most certainly Punter's last Test innings in the Caribbean.
After being hit on the wrist while fielding at short leg on day 2, Ed toughened up and came out to bat needing to get some time at the crease to make the selectors think long term for his contributions. The State performances that deservedly got him into our side can be easily forgotten as this game works that way. He was dismissed for 55 taken by a quick catch by Sammy in the slips. However, Ed finally had some reward in the end!
Punter was manic with his running between the wickets but he worked the ball around really well. Like Cowan, Punter hasn't really delivered that innings this series and it was good to see him settle into his game as the 2nd Test, 2nd innings was played under unusual circumstances. He took a lot of risk to get there, including the single which brought it up. Had it been a direct hit he would have been gone but he survived! Half-century number 62 registered for Punter.
Reaching his half-century the lead moved onto 261 runs with 7 wickets in hand. Unfortunately for our epic, modern day maestro he was dismissed for 57. Dismissed in the 50s as so many of our batsmen have been this series, ,making a good start and just not being able to carry on. Fortunately the team position was good.
Amusingly Kemar Roach dismissed Punter, the battle dating back to 2009.
Michael Clarke was dismissed soon after off the bowling off Shane Shillingford. It's been the first time in a long time I have seen Clarkey be really challenged by a spin bowler. He was caught and dismissed for just 25 but played a part in a good partnership with Punter.
Clarkey scored 188 runs this series and since the Test series against New Zealand he's stacked up 975 runs in Test cricket. Mammoth scoring!
The lead went past the 300 mark and it was a quick contest between Michael Hussey and Matthew Wade - the centurion of this Test - to see who would stack up the most runs for the 2012 Caribbean series. Huss was playing as if his life depended on it! Matt was only able to score 4 runs and was trapped LBW, having missed a few golden scoring opportunities. His dismissal meant Huss will be our top run scorer for the series. I look forward to him resuming his innings tomorrow.
Huss now has Ryan Harris alongside him at the crease, who played a significant role for us in the 1st Test with the bat. The Windies require 4 wickets but Michael Clarke may eye a declaration at some point. With so much time left in the Test he may let the batsmen try have some fun.
The lead is at 310 runs with two days of play remaining. Each and every one of our players will be bursting with adrenaline and motivation to make their final performances of this Test count before a lengthy break for the Baggy Greens.
If we can advance that lead well beyond the point of shattering the West Indies confidence, basically put them right out of the game in terms of self-belief (which may have already been achieved), then we're going confidently in a position to take this series 2-0 as it was in 2008.
As this game proves time and time again, it has plenty of twists and turns until stumps have been called. With the track having flattened out a little it may be good for Michael Clarke to have a bit of extra time up his sleeve. We've seen enough rain and bad light delays this series.
One thing I have realised this series is that so many supporters out there have zero patience. The comments I have read on so many news forums the last few weeks have just been unbelievable. So much negativity. As far as I'm concerned there's definitely work to be done regarding our batting but heck, we can take this series 2-0 and that will end a really awesome run for Australian cricket as we claw our way back to number 1 in Tests.
Come on Baggy Greens!
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