Roach fires out top order but rain intervenes

Ricky Ponting was threatening to play his first major innings of the series to keep West Indies at bay before the weather closed in early during the afternoon and did not allow the players back.

Roach has been the stand-out fast bowler during a match dominated by spin and added another impressive collection of scalps to his first-innings five-wicket haul. Australia had wrapped up West Indies’ innings four balls into the day, to earn a 54-run cushion, and Roach had to wait for his opening spell when Shane Shillingford started the attack alongside Fidel Edwards. Roach, though, wasted no time in making an impact when his turn arrived.

Starting from round the wicket, a line that has troubled Australia’s left-handers, he drew an edge from David Warner which carried low to Darren Bravo at first slip. Warner had flirted with the catching cordon during his stay although had started with three crisp boundaries. Then, three deliveries later, Roach beat Shane Watson for pace with a ball that perhaps kept a fraction low and took out the off stump to leave Australia 26 for 2.

It meant another head-to-head between Roach and Ponting which the former won in the first innings. Ponting did not find life easy and could have been run out by Edwards from mid-off when he had given up the chance of making his ground only for the throw to miss and Carlton Baugh had not reached the stumps. A second chance was offered an over later when he lunged at Shillingford and an inside edge carried low to Adrian Barath at short leg who could not hold on.

Ed Cowan had also been offered a life before he had scored and it was the simplest of the lot when he edged Edwards to Darren Sammy in the slips but it went to ground. He was made to battle for his runs, his one release coming when he swept Shillingford for four although the offspinner caused him, and Ponting, plenty of problems and unveiled his doosra during a probing unbroken 15-over spell.

At the start of the afternoon session West Indies spurned another opportunity for a run out, this time to remove Cowan, when Baugh could not produce a good throw to the bowler. Cowan, having once again forged a base for his innings, fell in very similar fashion to the first innings when Roach speared one into his pads from around the wicket which the batsman tried to work to leg. For the second time in the game Cowan tried the DRS but there was no escape.

Earlier in the same over West Indies had used up their first review when Roach jagged a delivery into Ponting which brought a massive appeal. Sammy trusted his paceman’s instincts and asked for the TV umpire but, as has often been shown, the bowler is often the least reliable person to ask.

Although Ponting was far from fluent – few batsmen have been on this surface – he was beginning to tick over more comfortably and moments before the rain flicked Shillingford through midwicket with timing that has not often been seen during the match. The contest was at another fascinating stage but was not allowed to progress any further.

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