Australia fail to strike after making 431

Published: Saturday, May 24, 2008, 2:31 [IST]
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Australia failed to make an early breakthrough after they were dismissed about 45 minutes before tea on the second day of the opening Test against West Indies on Friday.

At the break, West Indies were 18 without loss, replying to Australia's first innings total of 431, with Devon Smith not out on 15 and Brenton Parchment not out on one.

The Australia new-ball pair of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson extracted pace and bounce, but little sideways movement from the Sabina Park pitch, and the two West Indies openers navigated safely through the 40 minutes before tea.

Whenever the Australian bowlers strayed however, they were punished. Smith may have settled the butterflies with a searing cut through backward point for four off Mitchell Johnson, although Parchment survived a stern examination from Brett Lee.

But the Australians were fortunate to mount such a significant total, after Andrew Symonds battered the West Indies bowling in the latter stages of their innings to finish unbeaten on 70.

Fidel Edwards was the most successful West Indies bowler with five wickets for 104 runs from 26.5 overs, and Darren Sammy supported with two for 78 off 29 overs.

Symonds reached his 50 in the fortuitous circumstances, when he swung Sammy to long-on and West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan muffed a chance inside the line, and the ball spilled over the boundary rope for six.

Symonds was also fortunate that umpire Russell Tiffin did not adjudge him lbw to Edwards with the first ball after lunch, as television replays suggested.

He remained and farmed the bowling with the tail to extend Australia's innings deep into the afternoon period, after West Indies snared the scalps of Brett Lee and Stuart Clark cheaply after lunch.

Lee was adjudged lbw to Edwards for four, when he sought to take evasive action from a shortish delivery and was trapped in front when the ball did not bounce as much as he anticipated.

Clark frustrated West Indies for almost half-hour before he was caught at mid-off for three, when he mistimed a drive at a slower delivery from Daren Powell and Dwayne Bravo flew through the air to hold a priceless catch.

Stuart MacGill came to the wicket and he spent half-hour at the crease to continue to frustrate West Indies and added 32 for the last wicket with Symonds before he was bowled with a well-pitched yorker from Edwards for two to formalise the West Indies fast bowler's sixth haul of five wickets or more in Tests.

Before lunch, three wickets, two to Sammy, and purposeful bowling from West Indies slowed Australia down.

At the interval, Australia had reached 372 for seven in their first innings, after they continued from their bedtime of 301 for four, looking to mount a formidable first innings total.

But the West Indies' bowlers, making full use of the variable bounce of the pitch, shattered the visitors' plans with accurate bowling.

The pressure mounted and Brad Hodge cracked, when he tried to guide a delivery from Edwards to third man and was caught behind for 67 in the first half-hour of the morning to leave Australia 326 for five.

Australia were so hemmed-in by the miserly bowling from West Indies that they could only add 24 runs in close to an hour in between the time that Hodge and Mitchell Johnson were dismissed.

Johnson, who entered about quarter-hour before the close on the previous evening in the role of night-watchman, spent another 1-1/4 hours at the crease frustrating West Indies before Sammy made the breakthrough, when he was caught at mid-on for 22 driving at a slower delivery.

With lunch approaching, and the shackles still very tight, Brad Haddin, playing his first innings as Australia's 400th Test player, tried to loose the bonds placed on the Aussies and paid a hefty price.

The Australia wicketkeeper/batsman essaying a pull off the back-foot to a short delivery from Sammy got an under edge, and he was caught behind for 11.

Australia have won 12 of the last 13 Tests they have contested against West Indies. They hold the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies - and they have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.

The second Test between the two sides starts on May 30 at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua, and the third Test starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

The Aussies also contest a Twenty20 International and five One-day Internationals.

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