Ist WI-Aus Test hanging in the balance

Published: Monday, May 26, 2008, 3:53 [IST]
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Kingston: Australia, thanks largely to Andrew Symonds, remained in the hunt for victory before bad light on Sunday put the brakes on them as West Indies chased 287 runs to win the opening Test.

Symonds waged an almost single-handed battle to hit the top score of 79, as Australia were dismissed for 167 in their second innings about five minutes before the tea break on the fourth and penultimate day of the Test at Sabina Park.

West Indies were 46 for one in their second innings when bad light stopped play 25 overs early about 40 minutes before the scheduled close.

West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, on eight, and left-handed opener Devon Smith, on 19, were the not out batsmen.


Australia claimed the scalp of opener Brenton Parchment for 15, when he edged a short-of-a-length delivery from Stuart Clark and was caught behind before Sarwan joined Smith and they batted with aplomb to carry the home team through until the weather failed to cooperate with the visitors.

Mixing dogged defence with well-chosen moments of his trademark belligerent batting, Symonds led the fight for Australia to recover from a rare batting meltdown that saw them crash to 18 for five.

Symonds reached his second half-century of the match, when he moved down the pitch to loft off-spin bowler Amit Jaggernauth over long-on for the second six in the spinner's third over and the third in his innings.

He shared two valuable partnerships that put Australia back on track. He added 52 for the sixth wicket with Brad Hodge before lunch, and after the interval, he put on 70 for the seventh wicket with Brad Haddin before the visitors lost their last four wickets - including Symonds - for 23 runs in the space of 55 balls.

Trying to clear long-on with a short, rising delivery from Dwayne Bravo, Symonds miscued his pull and was caught at mid-off. He batted for close to 3-3/4 hours, faced 118 balls, and struck nine fours and three sixes.

Bravo was the most successful West Indies bowler with four wickets for 47 runs from 18.5 overs, Powell captured three for 36 from 15 overs, and Fidel Edwards snared three for 40 from 16 overs.

Symonds had come close to being caught and bowled on 55, when he drove uppishly and Powell was too concerned about self-preservation before realising the ball was not hit so hard at all, and Symonds got his sixth boundary.

There was another anxious moment for Symonds and Haddin too, when Australia reached 142 for six, and the two attempted a run on a misfield at gully by substitute fielder Xavier Marshall.

Symonds was 64 at the time, when he sliced a delivery from Darren Sammy. Both batsmen were stranded almost in the middle of the pitch, as Marshall recovered and threw the ball to West Indies wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin.

But Symonds had regained his ground, and Ramdin hurled the ball at the stumps at the bowler's end, but missed to the fortune of Haddin.

It was clear however, that the Australian batsmen had grown in confidence with the lead over 250, and Haddin looking for a drive at a slower ball from Bravo was caught at short extra cover for 23.

After Haddin departed, there was little resistance from the lower order of the Australia batting , although Brett Lee spent 20 minutes frustrating West Indies before he was caught behind for nine.

Before lunch, Hodge and Symonds stabilised Australia, but their batting continued its melt down in the second innings, and they subsided to 93 for six at the interval.

Hodge and Symonds added 52 for the fifth wicket, after Australia crashed to 18 for five, when nightwatchman Mitchell Johnson was caught behind off Powell for four in the first over of the morning.

Australia had continued from their bedtime total of 17 for four, and the early wicket would have been the right tonic for West Indies. But Symonds joined Hodge and they steadied the ship with circumspect batting punctuated with the odd boundary.

Symonds came close to being run out on 11 though, when Hodge failed to respond to his urgings for a second run.

Fortunate for the dreadlocked Australian batsman, Powell's throw to Ramdin was wide of the mark, and the West Indies wicketkeeper had too much work to do to complete the run out.

Just when it appeared that the two Australian batsmen were getting into the thick of things, Hodge was caught behind off Bravo for 27 edging a well-pitched leg-cutter that Ramdin swooped low to clutch with his right hand.


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