Brathwaite, Edwards shine before showers
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Rain prompted an early close, after half-centuries from new vice captain Kirk Edwards and opener Kraigg Brathwaite gave West Indies a slight edge in the first Digicel Test against Australia on Saturday.
Playing their first Test on home soil, Edwards led the way with 61 and Brathwaite supported with 57, as the Windies, choosing to bat, reached 179 for three in their first innings, when rain stopped play about an hour earlier than scheduled on the opening day at Kensington Oval.
The two batted doggedly, putting on 104 for the second wicket, before they were dismissed inside half-hour either side of tea. Edwards struck nine fours and one six from 107 balls in close to 2 ½ hours and Brathwaite gathered four boundaries from 199 balls in just over 4 ½ hours.
The 19-year-old Brathwaite had two slices of good fortune. He was 10, when Peter Siddle failed to hold a return chance in the first hour, and on 44, when Ricky Ponting muffed a low chance to his right at second slip off Shane Watson.
Edwards reached his 50 from 97 balls, lofting a delivery from part-time leg-spinner David Warner to the long-off boundary for his eighth four before he too, was dropped on 56, when Shane Watson put down a head high chance at gully off Siddle.
Brathwaite soon reached his 50 from 163 balls, when he clipped the diminutive Warner through mid-wicket for two, but with tea approaching, Edwards gave a return catch to the same bowler, mistiming a pull at a long-hop.
Bravo joined Brathwaite and they carried West Indies to 158 for two at the break, but the hosts suffered a setback in the first half-hour.
Brathwaite’s painstaking innings came to a close, when he was caught behind off Siddle, nibbling at a delivery of no great merit, leaving Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul to battle the Aussies and the weather.
Earlier, a bright start for West Indies was spoiled, when opener Adrian Barath gifted his wicket, as the home team reached 60 for one at the interval.
Barath fell after 1 ¼ hours, when he miscued an ill-advised hook at a short, rising ball from Ryan Harris and was caught at long leg for 22.
He and Brathwaite gave West Indies a solid start, putting on 38 for the first wicket. Brathwaite collected the first boundary of the day, when he glanced a delivery from Harris to the deep fine leg boundary in the third over.
Barath broke the war of attrition, when he sliced a drive at a delivery from Siddle to collect his first boundary before his departure came a few overs later, bringing Edwards to the middle to resist.
West Indies are seeking their first Test win over the Aussies in nine years, and first series victory in close to two decades.
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
A. Barath c Siddle b Harris 22
K. Brathwaite c wkpr Wade b Siddle 57
K. Edwards c and b Warner 61
D.M. Bravo not out 20
S. Chanderpaul not out 8
Extras (b4, lb2, w3, nb2) 11
TOTAL (3 wickets; 73 overs) 179
To bat: N. Deonarine, +C. Baugh Jr, *D. Sammy, K. Roach, F. Edwards, D. Bishoo
Fall of wickets: 1-38 (Barath), 2-142 (F. Edwards), 3-167 (Brathwaite)
Bowling: Harris 15-4-29-1; Hilfenhaus 16-4-32-0 (nb1); Siddle 17-8-36-1 (nb1, w3); Lyon 12-5-31-0; *Clarke 2-0-4-0; Watson 6-2-18-0; Warner 5-0-23-1
AUSTRALIA: D. Warner, E. Cowan, S. Watson, R. Ponting, *M. Clarke, M. Hussey, +M. Wade, R. Harris, P. Siddle, B.Hilfenhaus, N. Lyon
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: Ian Gould (England), Tony Hill (New Zealand)
TV umpire: Marais Erasmus (South Africa)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
Reserve umpire: Gregory Brathwaite (West Indies)
● See detailed scorecard from Cricinfo: http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-australia-2012/engine/current/match/540176.html