2nd Test: Australia grind on pitch offering early turn vs West Indies
Australia were better placed after Day 1 of the second Test, finishing at 208 for 5 but West Indies ensured they stayed within range with Shane Shillingford, the tall offspinner, impressive on his return to Test cricket.
Fluent strokeplay has not been top of the agenda in this series and the opening day in Port-of-Spain was another where the batsmen had to grind for their rewards. With that in mind, Australia were better placed than 208 for 5 might imply but West Indies ensured they stayed within range with Shane Shillingford, the tall offspinner, impressive on his return to Test cricket. (Scorecard)
The turn that Shillingford - and, to a lesser extent, Narsingh Deonarine - found on a first-day pitch suggested that anything around 300 would be a good total while Australia have two frontline spinners to exploit conditions after recalling Michael Beer to partner Nathan Lyon. Once the hardness had gone from the ball, which allowed Australia to reach 42 after 10 overs, the remaining 80 overs of the day brought 166 runs with West Indies opting not to take the second new ball.
Shane Watson was the mainstay of the innings for more than three hours as he ground his way to a half-century from 128 balls. Boundary opportunities had been rare for Watson, and mostly came when the quick bowlers offered width, before he got an inside edge to short leg where it was superbly held by Adrian Barath who had to reach upwards for the catch.
It was a deserved second wicket for Shillingford, who earlier struck fifth delivery playing his first Test since remodelling his bowling action, after he had twice been denied the opportunity to double his tally. Once that was by technology and another by the inconsistent glovework of Carlton Baugh, who dropped Michael Hussey when he had 5 from one which turned sharply to take the glove.
Shortly after tea Shillingford was awarded an lbw against Michael Clarke but the Australia captain reviewed, by the looks of it at the time more out of hope than expectation. However, the replays showed he had been struck outside off stump on the back pad so survived and even shared his slight surprise with the close fielders.
Clarke couldn't cash in on the reprieve when he managed to pull a long hop from Deonarine to deep square-leg having briefly provided the most fluent batting of the day when he took the attack to Kemar Roach at the start of the final session. Roach, who had earlier collected the important wickets of Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting, was more than twice as expensive as any other of the bowlers and offered Clarke width to drive as the fourth-wicket stand with Watson grew to 84.
Soon, though. Australia had to rebuild again and without Ryan Harris or Peter Siddle in the lower order - the former surprisingly rested, the latter suffering a stiff back - there is a longer tail than in Barbados when they hauled the visitors out of trouble and into the ascendency. But with Michael Hussey still present West Indies could yet rue Baugh's mistake. Matthew Wade was also put down, on 2, although the chance to Kraigg Braithwaite at short leg was tough.
West Indies thought they had taken a wicket in the first over the day when David Warner was given out caught behind by the umpire Marais Erasmus before Darren Sammy indicated the ball had not carried to the keeper. That was clearly the case and replays also showed it was also nowhere near the edge but if Erasmus had given the decision as lbw on-field it would have stood.
After that early intrigue Australia moved along at a healthy rate as both Warner and Cowan latched onto anything short, although Warner also had to battle to survive against Roach when the fast bowler went round the wicket and probed the outside edge. It was Shillingford who provided the breakthrough with his fifth ball when he enticed Warner to drive at a full delivery which spun enough to find the edge and Sammy pocketed a simple catch at slip.
Shortly before lunch Cowan was extracted lbw from around the wicket by Roach, who then added Ponting in the sixth over of the afternoon session with a beauty to square up the batsman and find the outside edge. However, the wicket did not come easily as Baugh palmed the chance away but, fortunately for the home side, Sammy was alert at slip to collect the rebound.