Katich, Jaques happy to set up Australia

Published: Sunday, June 15, 2008, 16:44 [IST]
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Familiarity bred success for Simon Katich and Phil Jaques in their double-hundred opening stand which fortified Australia's position in the third and final Test against West Indies on Saturday.

Katich batted through the entire day to remain undefeated on 148 - his fourth Test hundred and highest Test score - and Jaques made 108 - his third Test hundred - to lead Australia to 330 for three in their second innings when stumps were drawn on the third day of the Test at Kensington Oval.

Katich and Jaques dominated most of the day with a 223-run opening stand that was broken about half-hour before the tea break.

The two left-handers have forged a new opening partnership, following an Achilles tendon injury to Matthew Hayden which forced him to return home, and Jaques felt there experience of batting together in the Australia state championship was vital.

"I think we both went about it trying to forge our own partnership at the top and try and set up the rest of our order like we would for New South Wales," Jaques told reporters.

Katich noted he has not opened a lot with Jaques for NSW, but since he bats at three, they have encountered in each other at the wicket early quite a few times.

The comforting fact is that we have spent a lot of time at the crease together in the past few years in big partnerships, so opening the innings does not seem much different," he said.

"We know that Matt and Justin Langer had a fantastic partnership - the most successful ever in Test history - so that's hard to follow, but I think we have gone about things as simply as possible."

This was Jaques' highest score in the three Tests, and he admitted that they were both keen to make this innings count, following their soft dismissals in the first innings - both fell to miscued hooks - after being well set.

"We were both disappointed in the first innings, and we both got set and got out in similar fashion," he said.

"From my point of view, I was keen to make amends. We had spoken about trying to keep working in tandem and keep the momentum going. It happened and it was nice to get a partnership. It takes the pressure off you individually when that happens."

It was Katich's second hundred of the series, following his 113 in the first innings of second Test in Antigua, and his highest score in 26 Tests, and he agreed that they were bent on playing meaningful innings.

"It was definitely a different approach from both of us with regards to the short-pitched bowling," Katich said.

"We thought that was the biggest way that we were going to get out on this wicket, particularly when the ball is starting to get a bit older and a bit more variable.

"We decided just to get in behind it or sway out of the way, rather than playing the big hook shots."

Jaques also felt his innings justified his decision to undergo laser eye surgery before coming to the Caribbean.

"I decided to bite the bullet and go for the laser eye, and the guys at the Eye Institute sorted me out. It was really good," he said.

"I've found that in the field I could see the high balls heaps better, and as for batting, I've got a lot more time and I don't have to worry about the contact lenses. It's a big relief. It's pretty much changed my life."

Katich acknowledged that his performance in the two Tests did not guarantee him in a permanent place in the starting 11 for future matches with Hayden due to return, and Australia top heavy in their batting. But he was thrilled to have been given the chance to prove himself during the series.

"The opportunity to play has been great because I felt that I was ready to play well given my form in the last couple of years, so it's nice to get that opportunity now when I'm playing well," he said.

Australia now lead by 365 runs with seven second innings wickets standing and two days remaining in the Test to gain a victory.

Their chances have been enhanced, after West Indies opener Sewnarine Chattergoon badly twisted his ankle, and was taken off the field by a stretcher.

He was taken to hospital for a precautionary examination and returned to the ground with his leg heavily bandaged, and walking with the assistance of crutches which makes the prospects of him batting remote.

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