Benn, Deonarine help control the scoring after tea
PERTH: Australia dominated the first day of the third Test against West Indies at the WACA, scoring 339 for three in 90 overs after winning the toss.
Shane Watson (89), Simon Katich (99) and Michael Hussey (81 batting) helped Australia dictate terms on Wednesday. Barring a phase after lunch when Kemar Roach dismissed Watson and struck Ricky Ponting on the elbow, West Indies, which is seeking to draw the series, couldn’t impose its will on the proceedings.
West Indies did, however, have a chance to dent Australia early. The 21-year-old Roach, who in his first spell bowled at speeds in excess of 145 kmph into the wind, forced Watson (on 7) to edge a rising delivery. Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin and first-slip Chris Gayle had a misunderstanding. The chance was dropped.
Watson settled to make several authoritative strokes, pulling and driving to great effect. Katich played second fiddle, walking across his stumps and placing the ball into the vacant on-side. With the openers scoring their runs with minimal risk and Gayle inexplicably delaying the introduction of Roach after lunch, the match seemed to be drifting away from West Indies.
Gayle eventually threw the ball to his young fast bowler. Roach, with the wind behind him this time, shook things up. A furiously fast delivery of excellent length drew Watson into a fatal prod, bringing Ponting to the middle.
Much of the build-up to the match had involved the Australian captain saying Roach’s pace didn’t bother him. With Roach already having claimed Ponting twice in the series, the stage was set for an intriguing contest.
Roach cramped Ponting with a nasty short ball. The batsman ducked uncertainly, exposing his left elbow and suffering a blow in the process. After a delay for treatment, Roach hit Ponting’s ribs. The Australian captain batted through pain, grimacing every time he made contact with the ball before retiring on 23 for a precautionary x-ray. The result confirmed that he would be available to bat on Thursday.
Hussey, whose spot has been under threat, produced his best innings of the series, and although Katich’s dismissal – caught sweeping – meant an Australian batsman has yet to score a century in the series, the home side finished the day satisfied.
West Indies let itself down after the heartening performance at Adelaide. Sulieman Benn’s left-arm spin and Narsingh Deonarine’s off-spin helped control the scoring after tea, but West Indies, without an injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul, has much to do if it is to work its way back into the match.
Australia – 1st innings: S. Watson c Ramdin b Roach 89, S. Katich c Roach b Benn 99, R. Ponting retd. hurt 23, M. Hussey (batting) 81, M. Clarke c Gayle b Deonarine 11, M. North (batting) 23; Extras (nb-12, w-1): 13. Total (for three wkts. in 90 overs): 339.
Fall of wickets: 1-132 (Watson), 2-260 (Katich), 3-277 (Clarke).
West Indies bowling: Roach 13-0-67-1, Rampaul 14-4-38-0, Tonge 13-0-65-0, Bravo 13-0-56-0, Benn 19-3-61-1, Deonarine 18-3-52-1.