Australia took a grip on the first Test in Perth Friday with Pat Cummins bagging his 200th wicket as they bowled out a resolute West Indies then piled on more runs to stretch their lead to a commanding 344. The visitors were dismissed for 283 in the final session on day three after the hosts declared their first innings at 598-4 on the back of double centuries from Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith. David Warner, on 17, and Labuschagne, on three, then hammered home Australia’s advantage after they opted against the follow on to bat again, with Usman Khawaja the only casualty, out for five as they reached 29-1.
“You always bowl better when you’re slightly fresher, there’s really not too many instances where the follow on is realistic,” said skipper Cummins in explaining the decision to bat again.
“I felt like all the guys stuck to it really well today. Even the first session, we didn’t really get rewards but I felt we were in it. Happy everyone stuck at it,” he added.
The West Indies, who have not won a Test on Australian soil in 25 years, started on 74-0 and made it to lunch with the loss of just debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul for 51 and with Nkrumah Bonner retiring hurt after a blow to the head from a Cameron Green delivery.
But Cummins bowled fellow skipper and dangerman Kraigg Brathwaite for 64 soon after the break — his 200th Test wicket — and the momentum swung back in Australia’s favour.
Green was thrown into the cauldron for his second spell and accounted for the stubborn Shamarh Brooks, Bonner’s concussion substitute, as they lost 6-38. Cummins took 3-34 and Starc 3-51, but Australia also bowled an incredible 27 leg byes among 38 extras.
“Have 300 plus runs as a lead, it might be a bit out of our reach to get a win,” admitted Brooks.
“So at this point we need to just try and restrict them as much as possible. Realistically, I think we can last three to four sessions (batting for a draw). I think that is what they will give us.”
Brathwaite and debutant Chanderpaul — son of West Indies great Shivnarine — had negotiated 25 hostile overs before stumps on Thursday.
Blow to the head
Starc said he, Cummins and Josh Hazlewood had bowled too short and they adjusted accordingly on Friday.
It paid immediate dividends with Hazlewood extracting a nick from Chanderpaul’s bat in the first over and David Warner collecting comfortably at slip. Chanderpaul’s demise for 51 came a ball after he reached a maiden Test half-century to showcase his potential.
Cummins was a constant threat, regularly beating the bat, but Brathwaite, who resumed on 18, showed plenty of grit and fight to bring up a 28th Test half-century. But he had no answer to Cummins in the fourth over after lunch with a perfect delivery clattering into his off stump, ending a 166-ball innings.
Bonner took a blow to the head on eight and continued with a new helmet after treatment for another six overs, adding eight more runs, but eventually left the field.
Left-hander Myers came in for Brathwaite but never settled and chopped on from Starc with the West Indies losing two wickets for seven runs. Veteran Jason Holder steadied the ship with a gutsy 27 before prodding a catch to Warner at slip off spinner Nathan Lyon.
Starc took the new ball after tea and bowled a maiden before a full, straight delivery rattled the pads of Jermaine Blackwood, who was out lbw for a gritty 36.
The big left-armer then cleaned up Joshua Da Silva as the West Indies collapsed.
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