Australia continued to maintain the stranglehold they held over West Indies in the first Test by putting up another domineering performance with the bat. After play was delayed by an hour due to rain, normalcy was restored as Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja smashed centuries to lead the hosts’ domination on day one. Australia ended the day on an emphatic 345 for 3, with both Burns and Khawaja falling in the latter part of the day, having subdued the Windies bowlers. The visitors put up a slightly better bowling effort than the one at Hobart. But, it was nowhere near enough to keep the Aussies quiet.
Burns and Khawaja batted for a majority of the day, adding a mammoth 258 runs, and reaching their tons within three deliveries of each other in the post-tea session. While they would have been keen to carry on, and take their innings into the second day, both fell to tired shots. Burns was stumped off Kraigg Brathwaite’s bowling for 128 while Khawaja was caught down the legside by Denesh Ramdin off Jerome Taylor’s bowling for 144. By the time Khawaja was dismissed, Australia were well past the 300 mark. Skipper Steven Smith (32 not out) and Hobart double centurion Adam Voges (10 not out) will be keen to extend Australia’s advantage on day two.
Following the rain interruption, the day began in whirlwind fashion for Australia as David Warner went hammer and tongs. He raced to 23 in 11 balls, with five fours, but fell to the next ball as he skied Taylor to Marlon Samuels at cover, who took a juggling catch. That was the only moment of joy for West Indies for the next 70-odd overs. Burns, whose place was under threat, but was eventually chosen over the unlucky Shaun Marsh, repaid the faith. He hit 16 fours and a six, and was excellent on the off-side, leaving the ball and timing it equally well.
Khawaja, who walked back into the side after recovering from injury on the back of his twin hundreds against New Zealand, did not show any signs of rustiness. In fact, it looked as if he was just carrying on from where he left off against the Kiwis. Both Burns and Khawaja were aided by another insipid bowling effort from the West Indians, although they displayed somewhat better control this time as compared to Hobart. It wasn’t a significant improvement though. Bowling first, Jason Holder would have been keen for his bowlers to exploit the early juice in the surface, but Warner threw that out of the window rather swiftly.
In the pre-lunch session, Kemar Roach managed to induce an edge from Burns, which fell short of slips. Post-lunch, there were hardly any anxious moments for Australia as Khawaja and Burns batted merrily. Holder had to place defensive fields with his bowlers unable to build pressure on the set batsmen. Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican was introduced after the 40th over, by which time any juice in the pitch had disappeared. Khawaja and Burns were eventually dismissed as they got tired towards the end of the day. Only one day into the Test, and another Hobart result seems in the offing.
--By A Cricket Correspondent