West Indies on the run
Any hope of the West Indies drawing their two-match Test series with Australia were all but dashed yesterday following another clinical performance by the visitors on day two of the second Test at Sabina Park.
Led firstly by the entertaining Steve Smith, who slammed 199, and three-wicket hauls from fast bowler Jason Hazlewood and off-spinner Nathan Lyon, Australia have taken a stranglehold on the Test. At close, the West Indies replying to Australia's 399 were struggling on 143 for eight and facing an innings defeat.
This is for an overall lead of 256 runs. Fast bowling all-rounder, Jason Holder, with 13 is the not out batsman at the crease, and will be joined by either Jerome Taylor or Kemar Roach, when play resumes today at 10 a.m.
Without several of their front-line batsmen for varying reasons including playing in Twenty20 leagues around the world, and illness as in the case of Marlon Samuels, the West Indies were always expected to struggle in pursuit of whatever total the Australians mounted, especially given the fact they resumed the day in a strong 258 for four.
And, so it was.
They slipped to 44 for four and despite a 33-run fifth wicket partnership between innings topscorer, Jermaine Blackwood, and the tentative-looking Shai Hope, and a 42-run sixth wicket equivalent between Blackwood and captain Denesh Ramdin, the team found themselves in deeper trouble at 119 for six.
Blackwood, however, though risky at times, was entertaining in his stroke play, and after facing 77 balls, and hitting seven fours, and a disdainful flat bat six off Lyon straight down the ground, brought up his fifth Test 50 in his tenth match.
He could, however, be faulted for not being at the crease today as with two overs to go he mistimed a flamboyant attempt at a cover drive and was caught for 51.
Earlier, the West Indies had Taylor to thank for restricting the Australians. Again hitting the right areas with an immaculate line and length, just as he did on the opening day among their top order, he was a thorn in the side of their middle to lower order.
He began the day by first sending back overnight batsman Shane Watson bowled for 25 of an in-swinger, and followed up wicketkeeper Brad Haddin via a similar route for 22 shortly after to claim his third five-wicket haul at the venue.
The haul also took him to 28 wickets at the venue and fifth on the overall list of leading wicket takers behind Courtney Walsh, Sir Wes Hall, and Malcolm Marshall, respectively. He ended with six for 47.
"We are currently behind at the moment, but we have to try and come tomorrow and see if we can turn things around," said Blackwood.
"Holder and Taylor, both have Test centuries, and are capable of taking us closer to their target. If not, and whatever, position we find ourselves, we will just have to keep fighting and believe."