Australia stutter after bizarre start

Published: Friday, June 13, 2008, 0:19 [IST]
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Australia stumbled to 98 for four in their first innings at lunch on the opening day of the third and final Test against West Indies on Thursday.

At the interval, Simon Katich was not out on 27 and Andrew Symonds was not out on two, after Australia were sent in to bat on a hard, true Kensington Oval pitch under cloudy to overcast skies.

The delivery of the first ball was delayed by close to 15 minutes while the ground's authority tried to fix a malfunction of the automated sightscreen at the Malcolm Marshall End on the southern rim of the ground.

When play got underway, Australia made a confident start with Katich putting on 46 with fellow left-handed opener Phil Jaques.

But Australia were setback, when Jaques was caught by Denesh Ramdin for 31 when he miscued a hook at a short, rising ball from Jerome Taylor, and the West Indies wicketkeeper ran about 30 yards to the fine leg region to grab the catch.

Australia continued to progress smoothly, when their captain Ricky Ponting came to the crease, but West Indies struck three telling blows in the final hour 45 minutes before lunch.

Ponting was adjudged lbw to Taylor for 18 playing across a well-pitched delivery moving back before Dwayne Bravo struck twice.

Left-hander Mike Hussey was caught at deep fine leg for 12 hooking at a short, rising ball from the West Indies medium-fast bowler, who also had Australia vice captain Michael Clarke, a century-maker in the second Test in Antigua, caught behind for a duck edging a well-pitched ball moving away to leave the visitors on 96 for four.

West Indies made three changes to their team that played in the second Test with captain Chris Gayle, fellow opener Sewnarine Chattergoon and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn replacing Devon Smith, Runako Morton, and Darren Sammy.

Australia made one change, bringing in left-arm wrist spinner Beau Casson for his Test debut to replace retired leg-spinner Stuart MacGill. Casson became the 401st player to wear "the Baggy Green" cap for Australia.

The visitors lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they won the opening Test at Sabina Park in the Jamaica capital of Kingston by 95 runs. The second Test at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in the Antigua village of North Sound was drawn.

Australia have already retained the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy between the two sides.

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