Aussie Lee claims three wickets to trouble Windies

Published: Sunday, May 25, 2008, 2:07 [IST]
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Brett Lee captured three wickets in the last hour before tea to pull the rug from under West Indies in the opening Test against West Indies on Saturday.

At the break West Indies, replying to Australia's first innings total of 431, reached 268 for eight with Shivnarine Chanderpaul unbeaten on 80 and Fidel Edwards not out on zero.

Lee toiled 19 overs before claiming his first wicket of Dwayne Bravo, then added the wickets of Denesh Ramdin and Daren Powell to carry figures of three wickets for 49 runs from 23 overs into the break.

Stuart Clark has given him support with three for 44 from 17 overs. His impact meant that West Indies subsided from 260 for four with Chanderpaul and Bravo in full cry to 268 for eight in the space of 39 balls.

Lee struck an important blow, when he had Bravo caught at first slip for 46 edging a loose drive at a delivery outside the off-stump.

Australia would have been delighted to see the back of Bravo, after he came to the wicket in the closing stages of the morning period and emerged after lunch to spearhead the West Indies assault.

Stuart MacGill was the main target of Bravo's aggression and he was principally responsible for destroying the figures of the Aussie leg-spin bowler, as he struck all three of his sixes and a couple of his fours off him.

Australia continued to bowl with discipline, but Bravo and Chanderpaul kept West Indies going with a stand of 64 for the fifth wicket before Lee stepped in to transform the complexion of the match.

Lee had Ramdin caught behind for a duck in his next over, when the West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman too, drove loosely outside the off-stump.

Mitchell Johnson has bowled with pace, but little accuracy, and he too, was struggling to find his first wicket until Sammy whipped an over-pitched delivery on leg-stump and was caught at mid-wicket also for a duck.

Lee then had the sight that all fast bowler relish, when he bowled Powell for three with a well-directed yorker that extracted the middle-stump.

This carnage was in stark contract to what transpired before lunch, when West Indies strode confidently to 197 for four.

Australia failed to make much headway in the morning period, as Runako Morton and Chanderpaul batted with enterprise to add 128 for the fourth wicket.

But Australia scalped Morton in the last 10 minutes before lunch, after he and Shivnarine Chanderpaul breathed life into the West Indies with contrasting half-centuries.

The Aussies made batting difficult throughout for the two West Indies batsmen, but Morton, in particular, and Chanderpaul remained steadfast to give the home team hope of staying competitive in the match.

Lee worked up a decent head of steam and gave a stern examination to Morton's technique with little success. Lee peppered Morton with a number of short, rising deliveries which the batsman either evaded or took on the body.

Stuart Clark, whose three wickets the previous evening had put the skids on West Indies, opened the bowling from the other end, and induced an edge past second slip for four from Chanderpaul early in the period.

The Australians continued to bowl good lines and lengths, but Morton eventually reached his 50, when he lofted MacGill for a straight four, shortly before Chanderpaul turned Johnson behind square leg for a single to reach his milestone.

MacGill had the privilege of making the breakthrough, when Morton attempted a lofted drive and was caught at mid-on for 67 in the penultimate over before the interval.

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.

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