Australia off to a cautious start

— AP
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Shane Shillingford, returning to Test cricket after remodelling his bowlingaction, led the hosts with two wickets

Unlike himself:Shane Watson, known better for his slam-bang hitting, produced a patient knock of 56 to give his team a solid start.— PHOTO: AFP
Unlike himself:Shane Watson, known better for his slam-bang hitting, produced a patient knock of 56 to give his team a solid start.— PHOTO: AFP

All-rounder Shane Watson hit a composed 56 on Sunday to help Australia reach 208-5 at close on the opening day of the second test against the West Indies at the Queen's Park Oval.

Watson struck seven fours off 172 balls in 220 minutes, while captain Michael Clarke supplied a crucial 45 and shared a fourth wicket stand of 84 either side of tea. Clarke hit eight fours off 99 deliveries.

On a slow, dry pitch, off-spinner Shane Shillingford led the hosts with 2-56 while fast bowler Kemar Roach claimed 2-77.

The visitors, after winning the toss, got a sound platform from openers David Warner (29) and Ed Cowan (28), the pair adding 53 for the first wicket.

But the home team hit back twice before the lunch break, with Shillingford removing Warner and Roach dispatching Cowan.

There had been an eventful start to the day when Warner was given out caught behind off Roach by umpire Marais Erasmus in the second over. But West Indies captain Darren Sammy quickly withdrew his appeal as the ball had not carried through to the wicket-keeper, although replays suggested that the ball had missed bat and could easily have been ruled lbw.

The two left-handers blossomed to play some sweet strokes and arrived at their 50 partnership just after the first hour.

But the introduction of Shillingford, one of two changes to the West Indies eleven, brought immediate dividends.

Warner drove at his fifth delivery and provided Sammy at first slip with a regulation catch. Cowan struck five fours off 74 balls before he was given out lbw by Erasmus, the batsman failing to get a reprieve on the Decision Review System.

The West Indies was even more buoyant soon after lunch when 164-Test veteran Ricky Ponting was dismissed by Roach at 83-3. Ponting edged behind and Darren Sammy at slip was alert enough to pouch the rebound after wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh had dropped the initial chance.

But Watson and Clarke gradually rebuilt against disciplined bowling on a lifeless pitch and Australia took tea at 132-3.

Both players were more enterprising after the break, Watson arriving at his second straight half century of the series off 128 balls.

Clarke successfully overturned an lbw verdict off Shillingford when 41, hit just outside the line, but could not follow his vice-captain Watson to fifty.

The 31-year-old, who became the 12th Australian to pass 6,000 test runs when he reached 12, eventually slapped a Narsingh Deonarine long hop straight to Shillingford at deep midwicket.

Watson followed, prodding a bat-pad catch to short leg off Shillingford as Australia dipped to 178-5.

But Michael Hussey and Matthew Wade shared a gritty, unbroken stand of 30 to see the visitors to close.

Both batsmen benefited from chances, Hussey dropped by Baugh off Shillingford when 5 and Wade reprieved low down at short leg by Kraigg Brathwaite off Deonarine when 2.

Fellow left-hander Wade was 11 not out in just over an hour.— AP



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