Rain hinders Aussies' progress

Published: Monday, June 2, 2008, 4:14 [IST]
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St John's: A day that promised much, delivered very little, after heavy overnight and early morning rain coupled with poor drainage stymied Australia's charge in the second Test against West Indies on Sunday.

When stumps were drawn on the third day at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, West Indies, replying to Australia's first innings total of 479 for seven declared, were 255 for four - still 25 adrift of the follow-on target - after the start was delayed by 5-1/2 hours.

Australia were hamstrung, when the drainage system which was recently reinstalled at the ground did not respond effectively to the morning deluge, and the outfield remained soggy in a number of areas.

The Australians had suffered similarly at the World Cup last year, when they had to utilise the reserve day to finish off the same opponents in a Super Eight match.

The West Indies Cricket Board had warned Antiguan authorities that the venue would not be a part of the tour itinerary unless the drainage problem had been corrected, and a committee had been appointed to oversee the improvements.

A multi-million dollar renovation was undertaken, but on the day that the rainy/hurricane season officially begins in the Caribbean, the drainage system failed.

Reports indicate corrective measures will again be undertaken following a World Cup football qualifying match between the Antigua and Barbuda national team and Cuba later this month.

Australia did not fully assert themselves in the 2-3/4 hours available to them before the close, but they managed to remove Ramnaresh Sarwan for 65, after he added 77 for the fourth wicket with Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

Sarwan, leading West Indies in the absence of injured Chris Gayle, had reached his 50, when he turned a ball from Brett Lee into the leg-side for a single.

He was dismissed however when he edged playing defensively forward, and was caught at slip off Stuart MacGill, who announced earlier in the day this would be his final Test.

The Aussies however, did not have things all their way, and Chanderpaul also used the time to steadily progress to another Test half-century.

He reached the landmark, when he nudged a delivery from Mitchell Johnson into square leg for a single, and was unbeaten on 55 at the close, alongside Dwayne Bravo, who was not out on 29.

The visitors saw the pair add 73 - unbroken - for the fifth wicket with Bravo delighting the crowd with two huge sixes over long-on off MacGill.

Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they completed a 95-run victory in the opening Test last Monday at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

Australia have now won 13 of the last 14 Tests they have contested against West Indies and need only a draw to secure their hold on the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies.

The Aussies have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991. The third and final Test between the two sides starts on June 12 at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

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