Digicel Match Report: Aussies make strong reply to Windies 451

Everything which transpired on day two of the Second Test at the Adelaide Oval suggested that the West Indies will come to a creeping realisation that they will be spending a fair period of time in the field as the Australians pile on the runs. The fielders will be best advised to stock up on sun screen lotion and team masseur, Virgil Browne, will find the bowlers lining up for extra massages to soothe their overworked bodies. It is that kind of pitch.

The day was split in two distinct halves – firstly West Indies moved, albeit slothfully, from their overnight 336 for 6 to 451 all out. Then Shane Watson (96*) and Simon Katich (71*) followed up with a commanding unfinished opening stand worth a hefty 174 runs. They are 277 behind the Windies and have all their wickets intact.

For the West Indies, Brendan Nash missed his second Test hundred by eight runs, for Australia, Watson went to bed four short of what would be his maiden Test ton.

The pair piled on runs like men possessed by run-scoring demons. Katich played like the consummate, traditionally styled opener he is. At times he was watchful and meticulous, at other times he punished errant deliveries with ruthless disdain. All told he has faced 148 deliveries and has four boundaries and a six to his name.

Simon Katich cuts to the boundary for four - Gordon Brooks photo and DigicelCricket.com

Simon Katich cuts to the boundary for four - Gordon Brooks photo and DigicelCricket.com

Watson played the role of no-nonsense, free-scoring, ebullient all-rounder to perfection. He muscled 16 fours but his were no deft glides or wristy caresses. The 28 year-old’s shots were executed with more power than grace, more authority than timing. He delighted the Saturday afternoon crowd as they saluted his every thunderous hit with applause ranging from warm to excitable.

Having scored a duck in the only Australian innings at the Gabba, Watson must have felt that the Adelaide pitch appeared 20 days early and missing a red and white stocking around it.

However he did enjoy one reprieve on 91. He edged Sulieman Benn to Denesh Ramdin but the keeper could not hang on to what was a sharp chance. Benn deserved the wicket as he had toiled diligently for 16 overs during which he extracted generous bounce with which he troubled both batsmen on occasion.

Nash, like Watson, failed in Brisbane and some aficionados did not have him in the West Indies XI for this Test, preferring Travis Dowlin instead. Those who picked him have been vindicated. The little left-hander had a torrid time on day one when he sustained a crunching hit on his right forearm from former Queensland Bulls housemate, Mitchell Johnson. He was forced to retire.

He resumed and was peppered with short deliveries but mustered resilience and, like Darren Sammy, went to bed on 44.

Ravi Rampaul hits one of his two sixes - Gordon Brooks photo and DigicelCricket.com

Ravi Rampaul hits one of his two sixes - Gordon Brooks photo and DigicelCricket.com

Sammy was dismissed lbw by Peter Siddle to the first delivery of the day. Nash went on to score his second best Test knock and a most gratifying one against a team he grew up dreaming of representing.

After the loss of Sammy (336 for 7), Nash and Benn (17) added another 44 runs for the eight wicket before Nathan Hauritz (36-5-111-2) trapped the latter lbw. Kemar Roach followed thereafter (383 for 9) when he was adjudged caught behind off Johnson (26.1-3-105-3).

Television replays showed that umpire Asad Rauf (who left the 3rd umpire’s chair to replace the ill Mark Benson) blundered – the ball failing to touch the bat as it whizzed by. Roach knew immediately that he had not made contact but could not resort to the Decision Review System as the Windies had already utilized their two allowances.

It was still the morning session and the Australians must have harboured thoughts of wrapping up the Windies innings before lunch. No such luck. They were made to toil and the last wicket partnership drove them into a state of visible dejection and exasperation.

Nash and last man Ravi Rampaul moved to the 400 mark and took lunch at 405 for 9 with the former on 80 and the latter on 10.

There was more misery for the Australians to bear after the interval. So incensed had they become that Johnson, a previously proud fast bowler, was reduced to incessantly and intensely sledging the number eleven batsman. It was a sign of defeat which Rampaul and Nash enjoyed and were only too happy to further oblige. So irritated was Johnson – and so unnecessary was his severe sledging – that umpire Rauf had to reprimand him strongly and insist that he desist while also reporting his conduct to captain Ricky Ponting who himself could not hide his vexation at being made to field after lunch.

While Nash was his characteristic resolute self, Rampaul defended with a straight bat when he needed to and unfurled his arms for two enormous sixes and half a dozen boundaries as he recorded his best international score of 40 not out. The pair must have been dreading having to bowl and field to the Aussies hence the lengthy last wicket stand worth 68 – a new record for the Windies against Australia.

Nash’s resistance was ended when he was bowled by Johnson, leaving Rampaul short of what would have been a maiden fifty in his second Test.

Unlikely to want to bat last for any extended period on this pitch, the Australians seem intent on a 600+ score in their first innings to put pressure on the Windies when they bat again.

Ideally the visitors will want to dislodge the Aussies but with both their top fast bowlers – Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor – missing through injury the task will not be as probable. They may very well be resigned to waiting for a declaration unless Benn’s bounce can bring greater dividends on day three and Kemar Roach’s pace can blast a few stumps asunder.

Dwayne Bravo, Rampaul and Sammy bowl at varying degrees of pace but on the Adelaide pitch, their offering may seem more like a main course than a threat. Long days are ahead.

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