Aussies and Windies set for tense finish

Published: Monday, June 16, 2008, 3:39 [IST]
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Bridgetown (Barbados): Australia, let down by some slipshod fielding and a controversial umpiring decision, were locked in a tense battle with the West Indies in the third and final Test on Sunday.

After setting the West Indies 475 to win, Australia restricted the home side to 235 for three in their second innings when stumps were drawn on the fourth day of the Test at Kensington Oval.


The balance of power could have been more in Australia's favour had umpire Mark Benson adjudged Dwayne Bravo either caught behind off the glove, or adjudged lbw to a full-length delivery from Brett Lee in one eventful over.

But Bravo remained not out on 30, alongside Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 27 to offer West Indies a lifeline on Monday's final day.

The Aussies had snared the wickets of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Xavier Marshall in the final period to strengthen their position.

Marshall had edged Mitchell Johnson between first and second slip fielders Michael Clarke and Aussie captain Ricky Ponting for four to reach his 50.

But Clarke then had Sarwan lbw for 43 playing back and across to a ball of no great merit, after he added 95 for the second wicket with Marshall.

The Australian bowlers had been flayed by Marshall, who passed his highest first-class score when he was 83, and he would have been eyeing a maiden first-class and Test hundred.

But Beau Casson was into a decent spell of left-arm wrist spin and was scenting his maiden Test wicket, when Marshall turned a delivery to short leg and was caught by Phil Jaques for 85 stretching to his right to clutch the ball.

Australia had removed Chris Gayle, as West Indies made a confident start before tea, and reached 99 for one in their second innings.

Australia made such a belated decision to declare their second innings on 439 for five that the session after lunch started almost 15 minutes late.

They created a number of chances to put West Indies under early pressure, but poor catching let them down on three occasions.

Brett Lee suffered twice in his opening spell, when third slip fielder Simon Katich dropped Marshall on one, and mid-off fielder Casson dropped Gayle on eight before Stuart Clark then saw wicketkeeper Brad Haddin floor Marshall on 22.

Australia got a second chance to remove Gayle early, when the left-handed opener was fortunate to survive a run-out chance.

Marshall played Johnson to mid-wicket, and Lee missed a direct hit at the bowler's end with Gayle having given up and beyond the point of no return.

But the Aussies did not have to wait long before they removed the West Indies captain, since Gayle mistimed a pull off the hip and was caught at mid-on off Clark for 26 to leave West Indies 64 for one.

Sarwan joined Marshall about 40 minutes before tea and they navigated the West Indies safely to the break with little or no drama.

Before lunch, an unbroken stand of 79 for the sixth wicket between Michael Clarke and Haddin helped Australia to boost their lead.

At the interval, Australia, leading by 35 runs from the first innings, reached 439 for five in their second innings with Clarke not out on 48 and Haddin not out on 45.

Haddin joined Clarke, after Australia lost the wickets of Simon Katich and Andrew Symonds to left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn inside the first hour to leave the visitors on 360 for five.

Benn was the most successful West Indies bowler with three wickets for 147 runs from 47 overs.

Australia suffered a setback to their plans for free scoring in the morning period, after they continued from their overnight total of 335 for three.

Katich was caught at cover for 157 playing a loose drive outside the off-stump to bring his marathon eight-hour innings to an end.

Andrew Symonds has been a thorn in the West Indies' side throughout the series, but Benn poached him in his next over, when he had him caught at cover for two also essaying a loose drive.

But Clarke and Haddin batted purposefully to consolidate Australia's position and allow Ponting to make his third declaration in the last four innings of the series.

Australia 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.

The Aussies have already retained the Frank Worrell Trophy.


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