West Indies will need to complete their highest successful chase since they rewrote the record books in Antigua nine years ago if they are to level the series against Australia. Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting both scored half-centuries on the third day in Dominica as the Australians built a lead of 310 runs at stumps, and with four wickets still in hand there was no immediate end in sight for the Australian second innings.
Viewed in isolation, it wasn’t a bad day for West Indies—their final two pairs frustrated Australia for an hour and a half in the morning and their bowlers picked up wickets early in the Australian innings and then gained some momentum late in the day.
But the hosts were left to rue their miserable second day, when Matthew Wade's century gave Australia control of the match, and at stumps on day three Australia had moved on to 200 for six with Michael Hussey on 17 and Ryan Harris on four. Not since their world-record chase of 418 against Steve Waugh’s Australian side in 2003 have West Indies chased down this big a target to win a Test. On that occasion, centuries to Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan set up the West Indian triumph, and the way their batting has spluttered in this series they will need something similarly special from Chanderpaul this time around.
First, they must get through the rest of the Australian batting line-up. The innings started promisingly for West Indies, whose dismissal half an hour before lunch gave Australia an awkward four-over patch to face before the break. David Warner didn’t make it to safety, caught at slip off Kemar Roach for 11, and when Shane Watson was taken at leg slip for five off Shane Shillingford’s bowling shortly after the resumption Australia were in trouble.But Cowan and Ponting, two men who had endured a lean series, came together in a calm and controlled 87-run partnership that halted the West Indian momentum. Cowan was a little more attacking than he has been so far on the tour, but was still in no great hurry, and Ponting survived a couple of nervous moments to work his way into the innings.
Ponting was lucky not to be run out shortly before tea when Cowan called him for a single and then turned him back, and had the fielder at mid-on thrown down the stumps Ponting was gone. He also gave a tough chance on 27 when he pushed a Narsingh Deonarine offbreak past Adrian Barath at short leg, and although it was difficult it was the kind of opportunity West Indies needed to take. Cowan’s half-century, his first since the Perth Test against India, arrived from his 107th delivery with a cut for four off Deonarine, but on 55 he fell trying another cut against the same bowler when Darren Sammy at slip showed magnificent reflexes to snare a tough catch.
Ponting fell for 57 in unusual circumstances—he ducked a Kemar Roach bouncer but left his bat up and unwittingly lobbed a catch to slip.
Australia 1st Innings 328
West Indies 1st Innings
Adrian Barath c Cowan b Lyon 29
Kraigg Brathwaite c Harris b Hilfenhaus 0
Kieran Powell b Lyon 40
Darren Bravo c Cowan b Warner 10
Shivnarine Chanderpaul lbw b Starc 68
Narsingh Deonarine lbw b Harris 7
Carlton Baugh c Cowan b Lyon 5
Darren Sammy run out (Cowan) 10
Shane Shillingford b Starc 0
Ravi Rampaul c Warner b Lyon 31
Kemar Roach not out 9
Extras: (b1, lb2, w1, nb5) 9
TOTAL: (all out) 218
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-62, 3-73, 4-85, 5-96, 6-103, 7-120, 8-120, 9-186, 10-218.
Bowling: Ben Hilfenhaus 18-6-30-1, Mitchell Starc 12.2-4-29-2 (nb3), Ryan Harris 13-0-36-1 (nb1), Shane Watson 4-0-12-0 (w1), Nathan Lyon 33-7-69-4, David Warner 5-0-21-1, Michael Clarke 2-0-18-0 (nb1).
Australia 2nd Innings
David Warner c Chanderpaul b Roach 11
Ed Cowan c Sammy b Deonarine 55
Shane Watson c Sammy b Shillingford 5
Ricky Ponting c Chanderpaul b Roach 57
Michael Clarke c Bravo b Shillingford 25
Michael Hussey not out 17
Matthew Wade lbw b Deonarine 4
Ryan Harris not out 4
Extras: (b10, lb7, w1, nb4) 22
TOTAL: (for 6 wickets) 200
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-25, 3-112, 4-168, 5-171, 6-196.
To bat: Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon.
Bowling: Ravi Rampaul 9-1-37-0, Kemar Roach 11-0-40-2 (w1, nb4), Shane Shillingford 29-6-69-2, Darren Sammy 6-3-9-0, Narsingh Deonarine 10-1-28-2.