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Aussies, Windies sweating over 1st Test line-ups
KINGSTON: Australia, still trying to settle down following a number of high profile retirements over the last year, could enter the opening Test of three against West Indies starting Thursday without Matthew Hayden.
The long-standing left-handed opening batsman is suffering from an Achilles problem which prevented him from taking part in the visitors' solitary warm-up match prior to the Test last weekend against Jamaica.
"He is actually a lot better than he was in the last few days, and if he wakes up well on the eve of the Test, we will probably do some sort of testing," Australia captain Ricky Ponting told a news conference to launch the series on Wednesday.
"But you'd have to say not playing last week, and having limited preparation for the Test, he's probably 50-50 at best."
Ponting revealed however, that Australia have already prepared for the worst, and that Simon Katich will open the batting with Phil Jaques.
Australia are also missing Michael Clarke. He remained at home to attend the funeral of his fiancée’s father.
Brad Hodge will bat at five if Hayden fails a fitness test on the eve of the match and Katich has to open the batting, leaving Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Mike Hussey, and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to form the rest of the batting.
"Our whole focus is getting ready for the game," Ponting said.
"We are pleased with how the practice sessions went last week, and are excited to play cricket in the Caribbean again.
"We just want to play better Test cricket. We have brought new faces into the team, and we are looking forward to good performances."
West Indies too, have a few mountains to climb, and Ramnaresh Sarwan, leading the side in the absence of the injured Chris Gayle, is well aware of the challenge that confronts the home team.
"They are the No.1 team in the World and it will be a great pleasure beating them, and if we can do that, we'll be very satisfied," he said.
"But we are playing against the No.1 team in the World and we need to lift our game, and play as consistently as we can."
Sarwan believes the improvement that West Indies have shown in their previous two Tests series against South Africa and Sri Lanka bodes well for their tussles over the next few weeks with the Aussies.
"We have done well in our last two tours, and it is important that we continue to play that way and try and improve as much as we can, especially against Australia," he said.
With Gayle and fellow left-hander Sewnarine Chattergoon missing through injury, and Marlon Samuels banned for two years for his connections with an alleged Indian bookie, West Indies face a few questions about their line-up.
The absence of Gayle and Chattergoon allows Devon Smith another crack at the opening position, after he appeared to be settling in down the order against Sri Lanka, and earns Brenton Parchment a recall and a chance to prove that he is the genuine article.
The combined effect of Gayle and Samuels missing also affects the rest of the line-up, since their uncomplicated spin bowling support lent balance to the side which fortifies the case for the selection of a specialist slow bowler.
West Indies can choose either the beanpole left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, or the stocky Amit Jaggernauth alongside the fast bowling trio of Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell, and Fidel Edwards.
But the selectors' decision to name bowling all-rounder Darren Sammy in the squad is quite interesting and gives the home team a fourth seam bowling option.
The choice of a fourth frontline bowler - either the spinner or Sammy - will shorten the batting and leave Runako Morton and Ryan Hinds in a fight for a place in the middle-order.
West Indies (from): Ramnaresh Sarwan (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice captain), Sulieman Benn, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Ryan Hinds, Amit Jaggernauth, Xavier Marshall, Runako Morton, Brenton Parchment, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Devon Smith, Jerome Taylor.
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (captain), Mike Hussey (vice captain), Doug Bollinger, Beau Casson, Stuart Clark, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Ashley Noffke, Andrew Symonds.
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Russell Tiffin, TV Replays: Norman Malcolm, Reserve: Clancy Mack.
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Australia win toss and elect to bat against Windies
KINGSTON: Australia won the toss and chose to bat on the opening day in the opening Test against West Indies at Sabina Park on Thursday.
Off-spin bowler Amit Jaggernauth makes his debut and becomes the 270th player to wear the "Maroon Cap" for West Indies, and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin will make his first appearance for Australia to become the 400th player to wear the "Baggy Green".
West Indies: Ramnaresh Sarwan (captain), Devon Smith, Brenton Parchment, Runako Morton, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell, Fidel Edwards, Amit Jaggernauth.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Phil Jaques, Simon Katich, Mike Hussey, Brad Hodge, Andrew Symonds, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Stuart MacGill
Umpires: Aleem Dar, Russell Tiffin, TV Replays: Norman Malcolm, Reserve: Clancy Mack
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Second day of first Test between Australia, West Indies
JAMAICA: Australia would resume its first innings with 301-4 on the second day of first Test against West Indies
Australian Captain Ricky Ponting stroked 158 to guide Australia to a strong total of 301 for four against West Indies on the first day Thursday of the opening test.
The 33-year-old Ponting blasted 17 fours and a six as his 35thtest century revived the visitors from an early wobble at 37 fortwo. Ponting batted just short of six hours and faced 224 ballsbefore he perished a quarter hour before close.
Ponting shared successive century partnerships with Michael Hussey (56) and Brad Hodge (53 not out) to dull the home team.
There was a wicket apiece for debutant off spinner Amit Jaggernauth and all rounder Dwayne Bravo.
Edwards lifted West Indies after Australia won the toss and chose to bat. The pace slinger accounted for openers Simon Katich (12) and Phil Jaques (9) inside the first 40 minutes.
Katich, recalled after a 2 year absence, stroked three confident boundaries before slicing to Darren Sammy at gully in the fourth over.
Ponting and Hussey rebuilt the innings with contrasting innings, taking lunch at 87 for two and powering into a good position in the second session.
Hussey was never at his best but compiled a sound half centurybefore he provided Jaggernauth with his maiden test wicket just before tea at 174 for three.
The left-hander was the victim of a brilliant slip catch by Bravodiving low to his right to haul in a one-handed effort. Hussey struck six fours off 146 balls in just over three hours.
Ponting found another solid ally in Hodge and the pair furtherconsolidated the advantage after taking tea at 189 for three.
Ponting went to the break on 96 and soon celebrated his landmark off 137 balls in just under four hours.
Windies restrict Australia's progress
West Indies restricted Australia's progress on the second day of the first test in Kingston, Jamaica, by picking up three wickets in the morning session as the tourists moved to 372 for seven.
After Ricky Ponting's 158 led Australia to 301 for four overnight, West Indies pace bowler Fidel Edwards again caused problems with the new ball and the Australian batsmen found it hard to make any headway.
Edwards, who claimed both openers on the first day, dismissed Brad Hodge, caught behind for 67, to secure a vital wicket for West Indies.
Nightwatchman Mitchell Johnson (22) then spooned a soft catch to Daren Powell at mid-on off the bowling of Darren Sammy.
Sammy struck again just before lunch when he claimed test debutant Brad Haddin (11) who was snapped up by keeper Denesh Ramdin as he edged an attempted pull shot.
Andrew Symonds (18) struggled to get going against some lively West Indian bowling with Sammy and Dwayne Bravo providing good support to the pace of Edwards.
Symonds and Brett Lee (4) will resume the innings after lunch.
Australia fail to strike after making 431 against Windies
KINGSTON, Jamaica: Australia failed to make an early breakthrough after they were dismissed about 45 minutes before tea on the second day of the opening Test against West Indies on Friday.
At the break, West Indies were 18 without loss, replying to Australia's first innings total of 431, with Devon Smith not out on 15 and Brenton Parchment not out on one.
The Australia new-ball pair of Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson extracted pace and bounce, but little sideways movement from the Sabina Park pitch, and the two West Indies openers navigated safely through the 40 minutes before tea.
Whenever the Australian bowlers strayed however, they were punished. Smith may have settled the butterflies with a searing cut through backward point for four off Mitchell Johnson, although Parchment survived a stern examination from Brett Lee.
But the Australians were fortunate to mount such a significant total, after Andrew Symonds battered the West Indies bowling in the latter stages of their innings to finish unbeaten on 70.
Fidel Edwards was the most successful West Indies bowler with five wickets for 104 runs from 26.5 overs, and Darren Sammy supported with two for 78 off 29 overs.
Symonds reached his 50 in the fortuitous circumstances, when he swung Sammy to long-on and West Indies captain Ramnaresh Sarwan muffed a chance inside the line, and the ball spilled over the boundary rope for six.
Symonds was also fortunate that umpire Russell Tiffin did not adjudge him lbw to Edwards with the first ball after lunch, as television replays suggested.
He remained and farmed the bowling with the tail to extend Australia's innings deep into the afternoon period, after West Indies snared the scalps of Brett Lee and Stuart Clark cheaply after lunch.
Lee was adjudged lbw to Edwards for four, when he sought to take evasive action from a shortish delivery and was trapped in front when the ball did not bounce as much as he anticipated.
Clark frustrated West Indies for almost half-hour before he was caught at mid-off for three, when he mistimed a drive at a slower delivery from Daren Powell and Dwayne Bravo flew through the air to hold a priceless catch.
Stuart MacGill came to the wicket and he spent half-hour at the crease to continue to frustrate West Indies and added 32 for the last wicket with Symonds before he was bowled with a well-pitched yorker from Edwards for two to formalise the West Indies fast bowler's sixth haul of five wickets or more in Tests.
Before lunch, three wickets, two to Sammy, and purposeful bowling from West Indies slowed Australia down.
At the interval, Australia had reached 372 for seven in their first innings, after they continued from their bedtime of 301 for four, looking to mount a formidable first innings total.
But the West Indies' bowlers, making full use of the variable bounce of the pitch, shattered the visitors' plans with accurate bowling.
The pressure mounted and Brad Hodge cracked, when he tried to guide a delivery from Edwards to third man and was caught behind for 67 in the first half-hour of the morning to leave Australia 326 for five.
Australia were so hemmed-in by the miserly bowling from West Indies that they could only add 24 runs in close to an hour in between the time that Hodge and Mitchell Johnson were dismissed.
Johnson, who entered about quarter-hour before the close on the previous evening in the role of night-watchman, spent another 1-1/4 hours at the crease frustrating West Indies before Sammy made the breakthrough, when he was caught at mid-on for 22 driving at a slower delivery.
With lunch approaching, and the shackles still very tight, Brad Haddin, playing his first innings as Australia's 400th Test player, tried to loose the bonds placed on the Aussies and paid a hefty price.
The Australia wicketkeeper/batsman essaying a pull off the back-foot to a short delivery from Sammy got an under edge, and he was caught behind for 11.
Australia batting collapse after Chanderpaul hundred
KINGSTON, Jamaica: Australia suffered a rare batting collapse at the start of their second innings after Shivnarine Chanderpaul survived a stunning blow to the head and scored his 18th Test hundred for West Indies in the opening Test on Saturday.
Australia, leading by 119 runs from the first innings, fell to 17 for four in their second innings when bad light stopped play nine overs early on the third day at Sabina Park.
Fidel Edwards put the skids on the visitors with two wickets for 11 runs from four overs, and Daren Powell gave admirable support with two for five from five overs.
This followed another epic innings of 118 from Chanderpaul which lifted West Indies to 312, in reply to Australia's first innings total of 431.
Stuart Clark was the pick of the Aussie bowlers with three wickets for 63 runs, Brett Lee captured three for 59, Mitchell Johnson took two for 63, and Stuart MacGill two for 100.
Australia were looking to build on their healthy lead but Phil Jaques was caught behind for five, the left-handed opener groping at a delivery moving away from the line of the off-stump.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting led his side's batting in the first innings with a majestic 158, but he had no answer when Daren Powell squared him up and had him caught at third slip for five to leave his side 11 for two.
But more drama was to come, when Edwards gained a palpable lbw verdict to dismiss makeshift left-handed opener Simon Katich for one, and next over, Australia suffered another blow, when Powell bowled Mike Hussey for one.
This all unfolded after Chanderpaul took a blow to the back of his head from a sharply, rising delivery from Lee and lay immobile on the pitch for a several minutes.
The doughty left-hander however, received medical attention of the field, and rose a little unsteadily to his feet before he carried on and reached his landmark, when he drove Stuart Clark straight down the ground for two.
But Lee had three wickets in the last hour before tea to pull the rug from under West Indies, after they had fought through the first half of the match to reach 260 for four.
Lee toiled 19 overs before claiming his first wicket of Dwayne Bravo, then added the scalps of Denesh Ramdin and Powell that sent West Indies crashing to 268 for eight at the tea break.
Lee struck an important blow, when he had Bravo caught at first slip for 46 edging a loose drive at a delivery outside the off-stump.
Australia would have been delighted to see the back of Bravo, after he came to the wicket in the closing stages of the morning period and emerged after lunch to spearhead the West Indies assault.
MacGill was the main target of Bravo's aggression and he was principally responsible for destroying the figures of the Aussie leg-spin bowler, as he struck all three of his sixes and a couple of his fours off him.
Australia continued to bowl with discipline, but Bravo and Chanderpaul kept West Indies going with a stand of 64 for the fifth wicket before Lee stepped in to transform the complexion of the match.
Lee had Ramdin caught behind for a duck in his next over, when the West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman too, drove loosely outside the off-stump.
Mitchell Johnson bowled with pace, but little accuracy, and he too, was struggling to find his first wicket until Sammy whipped an over-pitched delivery on leg-stump and was caught at mid-wicket.
Lee then had the sight that all fast bowler relish, when he bowled Powell for three with a well-directed yorker that extracted the middle-stump.
This carnage was in stark contrast to what transpired before lunch, when West Indies strode confidently to 197 for four at the interval.
Australia failed to make much headway in the morning period, as Runako Morton and Chanderpaul batted with enterprise to add 128 for the fourth wicket.
But Australia scalped Morton in the last 10 minutes before lunch, after he and Chanderpaul breathed life into the West Indies with contrasting half-centuries.
The Aussies made batting difficult throughout for the two West Indies batsmen, but Morton, in particular, and Chanderpaul remained steadfast to give the home team hope of staying competitive in the match.
Lee worked up a decent head of steam and gave a stern examination to Morton's technique with little success. Lee peppered Morton with a number of short, rising deliveries which the batsman either evaded or took on the body.
Clark, whose three wickets the previous evening had put the skids on West Indies, opened the bowling from the other end, and induced an edge past second slip for four from Chanderpaul early in the period.
But the Australians continued to bowl good lines and lengths, but Morton eventually reached his 50, when he lofted MacGill for a straight four, shortly before Chanderpaul turned Johnson behind square leg for a single to reach his milestone.
Jamaica Test enters into decisive stage
KINGSTON: West Indies believe they hold the upper hand in chasing a further 241 runs with nine wickets in hand to produce a massive upset and beat Australia on the final day of the first test.
West Indies will start the day with skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan and Devon Smith at the crease after Brenton Parchment was dismissed for 15. With Chris Gayle missing through injury there is extra pressure on Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to deliver.
Chanderpaul, who was hit by a bouncer from Brett Lee on Saturday, did not field on Sunday but will bat in his normal position at number five on Monday.
Australia, however, are confident they can skittle West Indies and silence those who believe the world's number one ranked team are a fading power.
The Australians are fairly confident that on a fifth day wicket they can bowl West Indies out and hopefully win the test match.
KINGSTON: Australia recorded their 13th win in the last 14 Tests against the West Indies here on Monday as five wickets from Stuart Clark inspired them to a 95 run victory on the fifth and final day of the first Test.
Clark captured a career-best five wickets for 32 runs from 20 overs to earn the Man-of-the-Match award, as West Indies, chasing 287 runs to win, were dismissed for 191 in their second innings about 40 minutes before the scheduled tea break on the fifth and final day of the Test at Sabina Park.
Leg-spin bowler Stuart MacGill sealed victory, when he had batting bunny Amit Jaggernauth dubiously caught at forward short leg for a duck - a dismissal which TV replays showed that umpire Russell Tiffin's decision was incorrect.
The victory gave Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series which continues on Friday in Antigua and concludes with the third and final Test in Barbados, starting on June 12.
Denesh Ramdin hit the top score for West Indies in a rearguard effort of 36, Darren Sammy supported him in a 67-run, seventh-wicket stand with 35, opener Devon Smith made 28, and Daren Powell enjoyed himself in a late flourish of 27.
But Clark made sure the match was over as a genuine contest, when he ripped out Ramnaresh Sarwan and Smith in the first half-hour of the morning to leave the home team 60 for three.
He and Brett Lee shared five wickets in the morning period to bowl Australia into a match-winning position, as West Indies reached 117 for six in their second innings at lunch, following an opening session extended by 30 minutes to compensate for time lost for bad light the previous evening.
In their opening spells, Clark removed Sarwan, Smith, and Dwayne Bravo, and Lee sent back Runako Morton and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to have West Indies reeling on 82 for six.
The first half-hour after lunch proved to be one of the less impressive efforts for Australia, as Ramdin and Sammy batted with enterprise, and gathered runs freely off MacGill, in particular, and Mitchell Johnson.
But the breakthrough came once Lee was brought back into the attack, and Ramdin was run out for 26, when he failed to beat MacGill's direct hit at the bowler's end from mid-on going for a single off the Aussie fast bowler.
Clark completed his five wicket haul when he had Sammy lbw before the tailenders - led by Powell - entertained the crowd with some imaginative stroke-play towards the end, but their effort was meaningless.
Australia hold the Frank Worrell Trophy - symbol of Test supremacy against West Indies - and have not lost a Test series in the Caribbean since 1991.