Wade ton turns match for Australia


The drawn Trinidad Test secured the Frank Worrell Trophy for Australia but West Indies still had the chance to level the series in the final Test, and their strong performance on the first day made that a real possibility. But 24 hours later they were all but spent. West Indies ended the second day on 165 for 8, still trailing Australia by 163 runs, with Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 34 and Ravi Rampaul on 24.

The one ray of hope for West Indies was that their partnership had blossomed to 45 runs, and they knew that a similarly dogged lower-order stand for Australia – Wade and Ben Hilfenhaus put on 102 for the ninth wicket – had altered the course of the match. But too much had been left for Chanderpaul and Rampaul as Nathan Lyon and his colleagues weaved their way through the West Indies top and middle order.

Hilfenhaus set the innings on the right path for Australia when he had Kraigg Brathwaite caught at slip for a duck from a ball the batsman could have left alone. Ricky Ponting was off the field at the time and Ryan Harris was deputising at first slip, and although he didn’t grab the catch cleanly at first, he collected it on the second bite to leave West Indies at 1 for 1.

Kieran Powell and Adrian Barath put on 61 for the second wicket and there were occasional nervy moments, like when Powell was on 30 and was put down at cover by Ponting off the bowling of Lyon. But the breakthrough didn’t come until Barath (29) inside-edged onto his leg against the offspin of Lyon and was snapped up by Ed Cowan at short leg.

It was a busy day for Cowan, who in the final few overs was forced from the field with a wrist injury sustained when he was fielding at short leg and Rampaul smashed a Michael Clarke full toss straight at him. Clarke and Cowan had enjoyed a happier moment earlier in the day when the captain gambled on the introduction of David Warner, who struck in his first over when Darren Bravo inside-edged onto his pad and was caught by Cowan in close for 10. 

Powell fought hard for his 40 but disappointed himself by playing on to Lyon, before Narsingh Deonarine was lbw on review to Harris for 7, having originally been given not out. The wickets kept coming. West Indies were 103 for 6 when Carlton Baugh inside-edged and gave Lyon his third wicket with another catch in close to Cowan, who then threw down the stumps to run out Darren Sammy for 10.

Next ball Shane Shillingford played on to Mitchell Starc for a golden duck, hardly what the Dominican crowd expected from their home-town hero. But of course the runs shouldn’t have been left to Shillingford to make. He had already done his bit, and then some, by finishing the Australian innings with 6 for 119. Unfortunately for West Indies, the last two of those wickets came after significant tail-wagging.

Australia added 116 to their overnight total for the loss of their final three wickets, and they were very important runs. The visitors were eventually dismissed for 338 less than ten minutes before the scheduled lunch break to bring an early finish to the session, which was a fine one for Wade and the Australians, despite an early setback when Starc was run out due to a lazy piece of work when he failed to ground his bat.

But that brought Wade and Hilfenhaus together and they frustrated the hosts with a 102-run partnership, an Australian record for the ninth wicket in the Caribbean. Wade was the dominant partner and he showed an impeccable ability to read the match, having initially taken his time to establish himself on the first afternoon following Australia’s middle-order battles. He gradually started to play his shots, with cover-drives and pulls, and began to go for some more attacking strokes as he really found his rhythm.

Three times he dispatched the spinners over the boundary, once with a huge six down the ground off Deonarine and twice from consecutive slog-sweeps off Shillingford. Those strokes brought him rapidly into the nineties and he betrayed no nerves, speeding towards his hundred, until he was sensibly sent back by Hilfenhaus on 99 when he wanted a single that was clearly not there.

Wade brought up his century with a crunchy cover-drive for four off Kemar Roach, and the Australians were on their feet in the dressing room, knowing all too well that they were in a spot of bother when Wade had come to the crease on the first day. His success also gave him a strong claim to incumbency for the first Test of Australia’s home summer, regardless of whether Brad Haddin is back in the mix by then.

Wade fell for 106 when another slog sweep off Shillingford flew a little too high and Bravo at deep midwicket took a brilliant catch, lobbing the ball back into the field of play before he stepped over the boundary, and stepped back in to complete the take. Two balls later, Hilfenhaus was bowled for 19 trying for an agricultural slog over midwicket and the innings was over.

It was a satisfying finish for Shillingford in his first Test in his home country, but West Indies would have been frustrated not to snuff out the Australian tail after the early loss of Starc for 35. Starc was the victim of his own negligence, and some excellent West Indian fielding, when he ambled back for a third run after Wade’s straight drive was saved inside the rope by a sliding Brathwaite.

Wade called to Starc to let him know the throw was coming to the striker’s end but Starc did not heed the advice and chose not to slide his bat, and replays confirmed his front foot had not yet touched down inside the crease when Baugh whipped the bails off. It was just about the last thing that went right for West Indies all day.

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