West Indies came close to having a very good day in Port-of-Spain but finished on the verge of conceding a significant first-innings lead to Australia. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who fell six short of another hundred, and Narsingh Deonarine added 130 for the fifth wicket before Nathan Lyon broke the resistance then swept through the lower order with the second five-wicket haul of his career to leave West Indies trailing by 59 and the last pair together.
Nothing appeared more certain than Chanderpaul reaching his 26th Test century, and second of the series, after another masterful display of defiance but he was pinned lbw by Lyon from around the wicket - the fifth such decision of the innings. Opposition teams expend huge energy trying to shift Chanderpaul, but know there are likely to be some easier rewards once he has gone. To make the timing even worse for West Indies, two overs earlier Deonarine’s excellent supporting hand had also been ended when, with his first ball back into the attack, Lyon drew him down the pitch and Matthew Wade showed the importance of having a tidy wicketkeeper.
Lyon had be brought back to the bowling crease with the second new-ball only seven overs after Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson had not made the most of it. He waited until his 21st over for a wicket but a bowlers’ lot can change in a flash. Darren Sammy, in an attempt to repeat his breezy first innings in Barbados, picked out long-on and Shane Shillingford added to his opposite number’s success when he got an inside edge that was superbly held by Ed Cowan at short leg. Lyon’s fifth wicket came when Kemar Roach was given caught down the leg side although Wade was more interested in the stumping opportunity. Australia’s new keeper was impressive in tough conditions, not conceding a bye in 104 overs.
The evening collapse of five for 19 in 12 overs was another example of West Indies not being able to sustain a performance for long enough to take control. The 44 overs that Chanderpaul and Deonarine combined (and the period when Darren Bravo was also at the crease) was another of those uplifting passages that West Indies are just managing to produce slightly more regularly. Chanderpaul’s role came was no surprise but Deonarine showed application that was less well known, remaining calm as he reached 4 off 43 balls before beginning to expand his strokeplay either side of lunch.
Before Lyon’s intervention Australia’s only breakthrough had come from Michael Hussey as Michael Clarke again went through his book of captaincy tricks. On a surface gripping for medium-pacers Hussey, developing something of a golden-arm of late, and Shane Watson were tough to score off. Hussey produced a delivery that swung late to beat Bravo and take his back pad. Again, though, Bravo had given flashes of what makes him stand out as a batsman particularly his off-side driving.
Chanderpaul had been given a life on 8, off Lyon’s bowling, when Clarke could not hold a thick edge at slip which came off Wade’s pad. Alongside Deonarine he initially focused solely on survival - although Deonarine was inches from being run-out the ball before lunch - but at the start of the afternoon session Australia lost their way a little and the batsmen cashed in.
Pattinson struggled with his rhythm throughout the day and later left the field with back spasms after an awkward piece of fielding. His first over of then afternoon was taken for 16 by Chanderpaul which included three boundaries alongside two no-balls. Deonarine was not all defence, either, and a whip through midwicket off Lyon stood out before he launched David Warner over midwicket for six. Rain brought an early tea, but had not seemed to disrupt West Indies.
Chanderpaul brought up the 200 with another six, a slog-sweep off Michael Beer, and when Deonarine’s third half-century arrived from 132 balls with a rasping cover drive thoughts were even turning to the potential of the hosts building a first-innings lead that would put the pressure back on Australia. Then, however, Test cricket showed that despite it being the longest format a strong position can unravel in the blink of an eye. And, for West Indies, it was a familiar feeling.