Neser leads Australia charge under lights after Head’s run-out anguish
Visitors go to stumps at 102 for 4, trailing by 409 runs and their hopes of levelling the series fading
Head, Labuschagne shines again as Australia pile up the runs
West Indies 102 for 4 (Chanderpaul 47*, Neser 2-20) trail Australia 511 for 7 dec (Head 175, Labuschagne 163, Thomas 2-53) by 409 runs
An accurate Australia attack menaced with the pink ball under lights to leave West Indies in disarray after day two of the second Test in Adelaide.
In response to Australia’s mammoth first innings, set up by big centuries from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, West Indies limped to stumps at 102 for 4 with their hopes of a series-levelling victory appearing forlorn.
After a memorable debut 12 months ago in the Adelaide Ashes Test, recalled Michael Neser was relentless with his accuracy outside off stump and he was rewarded with the wickets of captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Shamarh Brooks.
Unlike West Indies’ uninspired attack, who claimed just seven wickets in 137 overs, Australia consistently threatened with quicks Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc unlucky not to breakthrough.
Only Tagenarine Chanderpaul, son of legendary batter Shivnarine, defied the attack through patience and well-judged leaves against probing seam bowling from Australia’s quicks.
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After an impressive debut with scores of 51 and 45 in the first Test, Chanderpaul continued to dig in and occasionally showed flair, including a sweep for six against spinner Nathan Lyon.
With his confidence increasing, Chanderpaul unleashed a bold counterattack before stumps and smashed a couple of short deliveries from allrounder Cameron Green to the boundary .
Chanderpaul again upstaged his senior batters as West Indies’ chances of a strong reply nosedived. Their hopes had rested on in-form openers Chanderpaul and Brathwaite, who had gutsy partnerships of 78 and 116 in Perth.
Brathwaite was particularly outstanding with scores of 64 and 110, but this was a different challenge against the pink ball under lights.
Despite having a penchant for swing, Neser was held back until the 10th over but he made an impact quickly by having Brathwaite caught behind off a perfect line and length delivery.
Neser almost added another but dropped Brooks in a tough one-handed return chance after diving to his left. It didn’t matter with Neser shortly after removing Brooks, who played as a concussion sub in the first Test, with an almost identical delivery that dismissed Brathwaite.
Lyon came into the attack in the 21st over and immediately looked far more threatening than counterpart Roston Chase, who did little bar release the pressure seemingly every time he bowled in Australia’s first innings.
Lyon got among the wickets by removing Jermaine Blackwood with a return catch, while Green bowled debutant Devon Thomas shortly before stumps to strengthen Australia’s stranglehold after a mighty batting effort earlier.
Stand-in skipper Steven Smith ended Australia’s first innings shortly before tea in their third straight declaration in this one-sided two-Test series.
Head and Labuschagne dominated an underwhelming West Indies attack with big centuries in a 297-run stand, the third highest fourth wicket partnership for Australia against West Indies.
Coming together with Australia at 131 for 3, after the quick wickets of Usman Khawaja and Smith for a duck, Head and Labuschagne were almost flawless on a batting-friendly Adelaide Oval surface.
Such was their ease, it seemed like a formality that Head and Labuschagne would reach double centuries but they both surprisingly missed out.
Labuschagne fell for 163 late in the first session when he was caught behind off Thomas, whose handy seamers were a revelation, while Head was run out on 175 just after the dinner break.
Hometown hero Head had cruised past his highest Test score of 161 but disaster struck when he was involved in a mix up with Green.
Head’s fifth Test ton was marked by belligerence, continually plundering boundaries through the off side, while Labuschagne was technically sound and didn’t require good fortune which he sometimes seems to have in spades.
Labuschagne hit his third straight ton to start the series and also passed 3000 Test runs in just his 51st innings with only Sir Donald Bradman reaching the landmark faster for an Australia batter.
West Indies had no answers and once again rued sloppy bowling, while Brathwaite’s tactics were rather puzzling underlined by often not implementing a gully in a conservative move.
He was generally reactionary, but a second-string attack didn’t help his cause. Without injured spearheads Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales, debutant quick Marquino Mindley only bowled two overs after suffering a hamstring injury early on day one.
It was hard-luck for an exhausted Mindley, who had arrived in Adelaide from the Caribbean just 48 hours before the Test as injury cover.
With injuries piling up and outclassed over two days, West Indies are spiralling to an inevitable defeat unless their rising star Chanderpaul can conjure something miraculous on day three.
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