29 Dec 2015

West Indies fightback but Australia in control

6:49 am on 29 December 2015

West Indies finally exhibited a bit of fire, flair and fight - unfortunately for the tourists it was too little, too late in the second cricket test against Australia.

Steve Smith.

The Australia captain Steve Smith. Photo: Photosport

Australia are 179 for 3 heading into today's fourth day in Melbourne, holding a 459-run lead and complete control of the contest.

The hosts captain Steve Smith scored freely, quickly and creatively in yesterday's final session, an unbeaten knock of 70 lifting his tally this year to 1473 Test runs.

Smith's strokeplay was astonishing, even by his standards.

He shuffled down, back and across the pitch then picked the gaps either through exquisite timing or tremendous power.

Pondering whether to promote Mitch Marsh up the order - to give the all-rounder rare time at the crease this summer - was one of the few headaches for the skipper.

Marsh finished 18 not out, having come out at No.5 ahead of Adam Voges.

Usman Khawaja stroked 56 off 61 balls, while Smith enhanced his chances of being the world's leading Test run-scorer this year.

Yet the fact Smith chose not to enforce the follow-on was a moral win for a side seriously low on morale.

West Indies enjoyed arguably their best day on tour so far and successfully riled up David Warner, the only member of Australia's top five yet to score a ton in the series.

Debutant Carlos Brathwaite and captain Jason Holder, who had both been niggling Warner, combined to dismiss the opener and celebrated wildly.

The visitors resumed at 91 for 6 in Melbourne yesterday, when Darren Bravo dug in desperately.

Bravo was 15 off 102 balls at one point but kicked on following a freewheeling 59 from Brathwaite.

Brathwaite, who later jubilantly celebrated his maiden Test wicket with a slide, was out on 13 and 50 in the morning session.

But the allrounder was recalled both times when replays showed James Pattinson (4-72) overstepped.

Bravo, who scored a century in the first Test, fell 19 runs short of reaching three figures at the MCG.

The talented first drop, who averages 52.57 overseas - better than any West Indies batsman ever - ensured Australia would bat again.

The hosts took 100.3 overs to claim 10 wickets and Smith was wary of overworking his quicks, especially with the SCG Test starting on Sunday.

Peter Siddle was proppy towards the end of West Indies' first innings, while Nathan Lyon finished with figures of 4-66 from 29 overs to be the pick of the bowlers.

Jerome Taylor's opening spell lasted three overs and cost 24 runs but Brathwaite and Holder made an early impact with the new ball.

Joe Burns was out edging to Holder for four, while Australia slipped to 46 for 2 when Warner departed.

Australia's vice-captain had been swapping barbs with both men.

Taylor didn't return to the attack, while out-of-form spearhead Kemar Roach finished with 0-22 from four overs.