After a starring role where he claimed his 200th Test wicket in style, captain Pat Cummins resisted making West Indies follow on late on day three as Australia strengthened their big lead in the first Test at Optus Stadium.
Cummins and Mitchell Starc ran through West Indies with the second new ball in the final session, as Australia gained a huge first innings lead of 315 runs.
Wickets came in a rush after Australia had toiled against determined West Indies’ batting on a surface lacking the venom expected.
With Cummins preferring a rest for his bowlers, Australia faced 11 overs before stumps but lost opener Usman Khawaja who was caught behind off quick Kemar Roach.
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Amid lengthening shadows from the towering grandstands, perhaps inspired by England’s ballistic batting against Pakistan in the concurrent Test in Rawalpindi, opener David Warner started with consecutive boundaries.
It was a sign of what should be ahead early on day four as Australia seeks quick runs before a likely declaration. Warner, however, will be looking to cash in after a failure in the first innings continued a lean patch in Test cricket.
Cummins led a well-balanced attack with wickets shared around the frontline bowlers. Australia’s quicks successfully reverted to hitting better lengths after a short-ball strategy late on day two was unfruitful.
After lunch, Cummins knocked over captain Kraigg Brathwaite with a pearler to memorably celebrate his 200th wicket. Playing his 44th Test, Cummins became the fifth fastest to the landmark from an Australian behind only Clarrie Grimmett (36), Dennis Lillee (38), Stuart MacGill (41) and Shane Warne (42).
His Test bowling average of 21.50 moved him fractionally ahead of Glenn McGrath as the lowest for Australians with at least 200 wickets.
Cummins claimed two more with the second new ball after tea as West Indies’ defiance came crashing down. Starc did the damage initially when he trapped Jermaine Blackwood lbw with a full delivery, which was upheld on review in an umpire’s call. He then cleaned up Josh Da Silva with a trademark full delivery, as Starc started to menacingly conjure swing.
Allrounder Cameron Green picked up his first Test wicket at home when he had concussion substitute Shamarh Brooks caught behind. It was a good reward for Green, who in his home Test debut didn’t bat in Australia’s first innings, after threatening earlier in the day with sharp pace and conjuring bounce with his towering height.
A searing Green bouncer hit the helmet of No. 3 Nkrumah Bonner, who batted for another 40 minutes in the morning session before eventually being ruled out with concussion and replaced by Brooks.
Cummins had earlier summoned a mighty spell after lunch to prove there was some spice lurking in the much discussed green-tinged surface. He led an Australian attack who worked over a determined West Indies batting order with three wickets in the middle session.
It dashed West Indies’ hopes of batting for the long haul in their daunting task of hauling in Australia’s mammoth first innings of 598 for 4.
Heading into the match, West Indies had set a target of batting at least 100 overs, which they almost achieved but it was nearly not enough after such a listless bowling and fielding effort.
They had started impressively against the odds with a 78-run partnership between Brathwaite and debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul, whose eye-catching 79-ball knock ended in the first over of the day when he nicked Josh Hazlewood to first slip.
Chanderpaul had one ball earlier notched his half-century with a lucky boundary through slips but Brathwaite continued to play a strong rearguard to blunt Australia’s accurate attack.
Brathwaite, however, could do little to thwart a gem from his opposite number as Cummins enjoyed another memorable performance. (ESPNcricinfo)