PORT OF SPAIN, (Reuters) – Australia and West Indies shared the honours on a slow opening day in the second test at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad today.
When stumps were drawn, both teams retreated to the dressing room satisfied but not elated after a tough day in the Caribbean sun.
The Australians had 208 runs on the board but West Indies had five wickets. Last week’s first test in Barbados was a thriller which Australia won by three wickets and already the second test looks like being another close encounter.
The revival of West Indies cricket has been slowly gathering momentum in the past two years and today it was their slow bowlers who did most of the damage.
Shane Shillingford, playing his first test since 2010, captured two vital wickets and took a catch in the outfield to give his fellow off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine a wicket.
Paceman Kemar Roach also collected two wickets to rattle the Australian top order before the visitors dug themselves out of trouble with some disciplined batting.
Shane Watson made a watchful 56 off 172 balls while captain Michael Clarke scored 45 from 99 deliveries.
When play ended, Mike Hussey, Australia’s last specialist batsmen, was unbeaten on 26 after being dropped on five, while wicketkeeper Matthew Wade not out 11.
After winning the toss and electing to have first use of a dry batting wicket, the Australian openers made a flying start, reaching 53 without loss when drinks were taken.
But the home side soon took over, dismissing David Warner for 29 then his fellow opener Ed Cowan for 28 as it became increasingly more difficult to score freely.
Warner had a lucky escape in the first over from Fidel Edwards when he was given out caught behind by South Africa umpire Marias Erasmus.
Warner challenged the ruling and television reviews showed that he did not get an edge but might well have been out leg before wicket.
The left-hander was allowed to stay and struck four boundaries in his 42-ball knock before his good fortune ran out after the drinks break when Shillingford was introduced into the attack.
Shillingford, who was brought into the team at the expense of Devendra Bishoo, had not played a test for 18 months after he was reported for a suspect bowling action and had to remodel his action.
He repaid the selectors’ faith when he turned the ball sharply and Warner edged to Darren Sammy at slip.
Cowan was trapped lbw by Roach with the total on 65 just before lunch when the paceman swung the ball back in and rapped him on the pads. Cowan, whose innings featured five fours, challenged the decision but lost.
Roach got a second wicket after lunch when he squared up Ricky Ponting on seven and the former skipper nicked one behind that was fumbled by wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh but snapped up on the rebound by Sammy.
Watson and Clarke steadied the Australian innings with an 84-run stand for the fourth wicket before Clarke hooked Deonarine to Shillingford at deep square leg.
Shillingford got Watson’s wicket when he had him caught at bat-pad by Adrian Barath.