ROSEAU –– West Indies crumbled to a nine-wicket defeat on Day 3 of the first Test against Australia in Roseau, Dominica, today.
The third and final day began with West Indies on 25 for 2 and in danger of capitulating. They needed 145 more to make Australia bat again. Australia’s morning began perfectly when a loose drive from Darren Bravo was taken at mid-off by a diving David Warner off Josh Hazlewood for 5. But then Marlon Samuel and debutant Shane Dowrich ground out the highest partnership of the Test.
Their 144-run union threatened not only to take the match into a fourth day but to pull it out of Australia’s grasp and back into competitive territory. Only one wicket fell in each of the first two sessions. But then came the collapse. After tea West Indies lost their last six wickets for 27, set Australia a target of 47, and provided the rain and light held out, a three-day finish was on again.
David Warner had no intention of coming back on Saturday. He thumped a four and a six off Jerome Taylor’s first over, then another six off Shannon Gabriel in the second over. Warner edged Taylor to slip for 28 with five runs still needed, but Steven Smith joined Shaun Marsh and finished the job within the first five overs of the innings, a nine-wicket win satisfying the Australians ahead of the second Test in Jamaica.
In the end it looked clinical, but there were times throughout the match that West Indies were in the contest. When they reduced Australia to 126 for 6 on the second day, they sent some nervous moments through the Australian camp. But the unbeaten 130 from debutant Adam Voges was the big difference, his work with the tail giving Australia a comfortable first-innings buffer.
While Dowrich and Samuels were together there were also slivers of hope for West Indies. Both men were steady in the morning session before becoming more expansive after lunch. Within the space of three balls, Samuels lifted Nathan Lyon over mid-on for a four and a six, and his half-century came from his 115th delivery.
Dowrich also cleared mid-on for a six off Lyon and brought up his fifty from his 153rd delivery with a pull for four off Mitchell Johnson. Soon, West Indies were back into the lead. If Dowrich and Samuels could bat on, if they could set up a chase of 150 or 200 runs, who knows what might have happened. But it was not to be. Dowrich drove Hazlewood to a catching short mid-on for 70, and it signalled the beginning of the end.
After tea, the wickets began to tumble. Jermaine Blackwood advanced, missed a low full toss from Lyon and was stumped by Brad Haddin, who failed to take the ball cleanly but kept his head well enough to complete the job. In the next over, Samuels top-edged a pull off Johnson to Hazlewood at fine leg for 74, and it was all down to the wicketkeeper and bowlers.
Denesh Ramdin chopped on off Lyon, Jerome Taylor was lbw for a golden duck to a Mitchell Starc inswinger, and a few overs later Starc finished the job by bowling Devendra Bishoo and Gabriel from consecutive deliveries. Jason Holder was left not out on 12, and Australia were left with the task of beating the cloud and bad light if they wanted an extra day off between matches.
Warner made sure they did just that. All that was left was a Man-of-the-Match presentation for Voges on debut, and a reworking of weekend plans for the Dominican fans, who reasonably would have expected cricket in their country on Saturday and Sunday. By collapsing before tea on the first day having chosen to bat, West Indies set themselves behind from the start of this game. And it was an advantage Australia were never likely to give up.