Thursday, 26 April 2012

West Indies Fighting

Chanderpaul made 68
The West Indies can take great heart in their performances in this series against a resurgent Australia. They will likely lose the series 2-0 but they have a new breed of young players which the selectors must be patient with and a captain who is an excellent man manager.

Shiv Chanderpaul batted for 90 minutes with the tail in the morning session, adding another 53 to the total. The last two wickets almost doubled the score. Ravi Rampaul was the first out when he lost his head and danced down the wicket to Nathan Lyon, intent on putting him over the long on boundary. Instead, he sliced the ball to Dave Warner at point. Kemar Roach helped Chanderpaul add another 32 before the the new ball ended it. Starc took out Chanderpaul with a corker which moved away in the air and then cut back into his pads.

Australia started their second innings with a lead of 110. Given that the bowlers had added 159 for the last three Australian wickets, it would be fair to say that it was about time the batsmen did some work. The opening partnership could last four overs until lunch when Warner went Phil Hughes style, slashing at a ball that should have been left three ball before lunch. Chanderpaul took the catch at third slip. It was the wicket which shared the first session between the two sides.

Cowan & Ponting both made fifties
West Indies started with the two spinners after lunch and Watson did stay long. After Cowan had been dropped, Watson attempted to glide the ball off his pads from Shillingford and instead played it straight from the face of the bat to Darren Sammy at leg slip. It was a sharp catch. Ricky Ponting joined Cowan with the media again baying during this series but it reality, he has batted better than most of the Australians, on difficult wickets. He has been the subject of a string of odd dismissals. Playing well forward when he had to, he spent most of the time on the back foot, hitting firmly through the on side to negate the leg side trap which Shane Shillingford was operating to. Cowan found the going a little easier, as the ball was spinning away from him and not threatening his stumps and he also hit firmly. West Indies threw everything at them and Shillingford bowled unchanged again. As well as he bowled, he often bowled the wrong line, getting to close to leg stump and being distracted off his good length by the Australia tactics. At the other end, Rampaul and Roach were impressive.

By tea, Australia had again established their authority at 2-94.

The last session was full of effort from both sides. Cowan and Ponting raised half centuries, for both of them their highest scores of the series. Narsingh Deonarine fooled Cowan into cutting a ball that was too full and angling in at him rather than going away and Darren Sammy held a remarkable chest high catch at first slip that came from more face than edge of Cowan's bat. Sammy takes so many screamers but manages to drop sitters. Perhaps he needs instinct to be present to be sure in his hands? Clarke came in and re-affirmed the Australian policy of hitting hard to leg and sent successive deliveries to the head and then shin of Adrian Barath at short leg. Such is the nature of body protection in the modern game that he remained uninjured. Imagine the further nuisance Sid Barnes might have been at short leg with helmet and shin pads.

Ponting and Clarke added 56 before Roach returned to remove Ponting. It was another in the sequence of strange dismissals that Ponting has been victim to in this series. Today, he dived under a Roach bouncer but only to periscope depth and was caught of the back of the raised vertical bat above his head. It was like watching Doug Walters against John Snow in 1970-71 ... am I that old? Ponting has been bowled and caught off inside edges, been Watson latest run out victim, caught from a ricochet of the keeper's pads and caught by the only man in the deep off the only attacking shot in a needed defensive innings. Through it all, he has looked in good form but before today, had less than 100 runs in five digs in the series. A funny game ... you bet!

Anyone seen my dummy?
Clarke was out three runs later, attempting to pull Shillingford into the outfield but hitting it straight up in the air instead. Matthew Wade added 25 with Hussey but with stumps a few overs away, was lbw to Deonarine. Missing two consecutive full tosses, the second won hit his right boot and the umpire, technology and the naked eye of almost everyone with a TV monitor agreed it was out. Wade's ill-tempered walk from the field should earn him a rebuke from the match referee and rightly so. It was an unnecessary reaction.

Australia have enough to win but will bat on. Time and weather are not factors and their opponents have a poor second innings record.

Cricket being cricket though, nothing is ever certain. If Bravo blisters and Chanderpaul stays, it would take only two of the rest to bat reasonably ... improbable I know, but would it hurt?

Session Count: West Indies 3, Australia 4, Drawn 2