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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Captain rises and inspires bowlers

Australia 431 and 4/17 lead West Indies 312 (S Chanderpaul 118, R Morton 67, S Clark 3/59, B Lee 3/63) by 136 runs with 6 wickets left: Second Test Day3 at Sabina Park, Jamaica.

What a day! What a fightback by the West Indies. And how unexpected... though maybe less so after the resolution the Windies have shown in this match so far.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 118/276b (13x4, 1x6) solidified the shaky foundation of 3/68 and in time allowed Runako Morton 67/ 135b (10x4, 2x6) and Dwayne Bravo 46/60b, (4x4, 3x6) to play a few more strokes. Together and despite receiving little assistance from the others who batted today (nos 7 -11 contributed 4 runs between them) they took their side to a respectable first innings total of 312.

The defining moment was at 8/276 when Chanderpaul, on 86, was hit and knocked out by a short ball from Brett Lee: the last of the 95th over. The sound thudded out of my television set, and it seemed for several minutes as if he'd play no further part in the innings, and perhaps the match.

But he rose, continued his innings and added another 45 to his team's and 32 to his personal score. This brave act (which I hope doesn't turn out to have been foolhardy) brought the Windies
that much closer to Australia: the gap in the scores greater than the psychological one.

The Australian pace bowlers were more consistent today, even if Stuart Clark lacked his fire of yesterday. Stuart MacGill did not bowl well: as 22-2 -100 - 2 indicates. He'll need to lift several notches if he is to play any part in the second innings ie unless there's a target of at least 200 or so bowling him will be very risky indeed.

When Simon Katich and Phil Jaques walked out to open Australia's second innings they would have expected to build their team's lead, their scores and their reputations.

But it didn't happen, in fact there was a collapse of unAustralian proportions: Jacques caught behind off Fidel Edwards, Ricky Ponting snicking Daren Powell to Bravo in the slips (another good catch by him), Katich lbw to Edwards and Mike " Mr Cricket" Hussey bowled by Powell. It was then 4/12.

When bad light stopped play, no doubt to Australia's relief, the score had advanced to 4/17 and the lead to 136. If Australia are to win this one from here something like normal service will need to be resumed.

Another late night/ early morning awaits.

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