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Sunday, December 06, 2009

I was wrong again: West Indies revival puts Australia under pump

West Indies 451 and 0/23 (4 ov) lead Australia 438 (131.1 ov, S Watson 96, S Katich 80,M Clarke 71, B Haddin 55*, S Benn 5/155) by 35 runs with 10 second innings wickets in hand: T2 D3 at Adelaide Oval.

From the second ball of the day, with which Sulieman Benn bowled Shane Watson for his overnight 96/148b (16x4) Australia moved towards the 451 required for a first innings lead. On the evidence of D2 and T1 I, like others including coach Tim Nielsen (who'd talked up the chances of an innings victory) expected them to achieve this goal comfortably.

But it didn't happen. The West Indies attack, the sharp edge of which consisted of Sulieman Benn (5/155) and Kemar Roach (3/93), kept sufficient pressure on to prevent a major partnership from developing and, crucially, induced several well set batsmen, notably Simon Katich (80) , Ricky Ponting (36) and Michael Clarke (71) into error while making Michael Hussey (41) look out of touch.

The consequences? For Australia, no century maker, a small first innings deficit and a sense of deflation after the euphoria (hubris?) of D2 and T1. For the West Indies, renewed confidence in their abilities and, as the 0/23 comfortably taken from the day's final four overs suggested, perhaps a sense of possibility. There are two days to go, and the latest weather forecast includes rain late tomorrow and on Tuesday, so a draw now looks more possible. To my mind the major problem facing the Windies is whether their attack is strong enough to dismiss Australia a second time. Benn (53 overs) and Roach (25.1) will be sore tonight after their efforts. It will be hard though not impossible (apart from expecting Benn to wheel off anything like another 53 overs) for them to repeat their efforts in Australia's second innings but they will need more support, if only in the form of consistent line and length, from the other bowlers.

Elsewhere, at Mumbai India completed their trouncing of Sri Lanka and moved to no1 in the world Test rankings , while at Wellington Pakistan levelled the series by defeating New Zealand
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