West Indies have set themselves a perfect platform to cause a huge upset on the final day of the first Test at Sabina Park. The underdogs had been given a chasable target of 287 out of which 46 runs have been knocked off at stumps on the fourth day. Windies have nine wickets standing tall and in particular that of Captain Ramnaresh Sarwan, who will be looking to make amends for his first innings’ failure.
Australia were in trouble when they had resumed their second innings on the fourth day, at a vulnerable 17 for 4. In the fifth ball of the day’s play itself, West Indies struck gold by removing night watchman Mitchell Johnson through Daren Powell. Australia got reduced to 18 for 5 with a lead of just 137! Symonds had to play a heroic innings if his side had to bail out of trouble and he didn’t let them down at all. First he combined with Brad Hodge and then later on with wicket keeper Brad Haddin to add some important runs on the board.
For West Indies, the lucky mascot was Dwayne Bravo, who was able to give the breaks just when Symonds was turning it on with the two Brads. First Bravo got rid of Hodge (27) in the 28th over to reduce Australia to 70 for 6 and then after lunch sent back Brad Haddin (23). Australia were now at 144 for 7 and soon were 162 for 8 with all rounder Brett Lee not able to stick for a long time. After Lee’s wicket, the West Indies wrapped up things in no time as Australia collapsed to 167 all out in 56.5 overs. Australia’s hopes of stretching the target a little further when Symonds had miscued a pull shot off Bravo. Symonds played a superb knock getting 79 from 118 balls with 9 fours and 3 sixes before the bowlers could do the total damage. The last three wickets fell for the addition of just 5 runs in the space of as many deliveries! The spoils were shared by Daren Powell (15-5-36-3), Fidel Edwards (16-3-40-3) and of course Dwayne Bravo (18.5-3-47-4).
West Indies begin their run chase cautiously in the form of Devon Smith and Brenton Parchment. The Australian bowlers sprayed the ball around but at the same time weren’t getting hit around. The much needed breakthrough came when the right handed Parchment (15) was indecisive about playing or leaving a Stuart Clark delivery. Although Parchment didn’t make much of an impact, the start of seeing the new ball off for 7.3 overs would be quite handy for the middle order. The next 30 minutes or so was well negotiated by Devon Smith (19 from 55 balls with 1 four) and Skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan (8 from 23 balls) before bad light brought an early end to proceedings. West Indies need their batsmen to show some application on the final day if they have to record what would be a tremendous victory. For Ponting and co., they would be feeling the heat of not having too many runs to defend, but they do have a good bowling unit that can do the job.