Some say practice makes a man perfect. West Indies’ current performance proves the proverb right. Their practice, after the 1st Test loss by an innings and 212 runs, clearly made them better but were still far from perfect as they lost the 2nd Test by 177 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
West Indies clearly displayed a far better performance since the 1st Test. Their practice match between the tour and regular net sessions paid off as the Boxing Day Test saw some great cricket being played. The match was more or less on the balanced side, Australia having the edge after every session, until the end of 4th day where West Indies threw away their wickets regularly to hand over the Frank Worrell series lead to Australia by 2-0.
After their defeat, the West Indies captain Jason Holder said, “We showed some fight. Some of the guys came out and played themselves in. Credit to the way Australia played. Hopefully the guys can continue in the same way in the last Test match. We just need to keep that belief and keep pushing Australia.”
The West Indies had a steep target of 460 runs to chase. The Caribbean batsmen had great starts but failed to capitalize on it. Big scores were left pending from the top and middle-order batsmen as they all got out in their 20s and 30s. Denying the hosts an early and demolishing victory, skipper Holder (68) and batsman Ramdin (59) put up their 100-run stand, first in the series from the West Indies’ stable. Their partnership couldn’t flourish further as Mitchell Marsh (4/61) removed the pair, providing the Australians a virtual victory during the match. Man of the Match Nathan Lyon (3/85) and pace bowler James Pattinson (2/49) gave able support in the early stages to keep the pressure on West Indies and bowling them out for 282.
The 4th day was almost at the close when West Indies were 278/9. To prevent the play from going to the 5th day, the home team were given an additional 30 mins to send the last batsman back to the pavilion and the home team didn’t disappoint. Star bowler Mitchell Marsh bowled a short bowl, which caught Taylor’s top edge while he tried to play the pull shot and ultimately got caught by Pattinson. The last wicket fell just 2 mins after both teams entered the additional time clause. West Indies lost their last 4 wickets in the span of 10 overs, in the last 32 runs.
Hosts had the edge since the commencement of the match. Joe Burns (128), Usman Khawaja (144), Steven Smith (134 n.o.) and Adam Voges (106 n.o.), all scored big tons to put the Aussies in an assailable score of 551/3 declared. West Indies replied with a fair score of 271 runs in their first innings, where Darren Bravo (81) and rookie Carlos Braithwaite (59) were top scorers. James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon took 4 wickets each while pacer Peter Siddle returned figures of 2/40.
Not enforcing the follow on as the play had just entered Day 3, Australia batted again and went all-guns blazing when they scored 179/3 in just 32 overs of bowling. Captain Smith remained unbeaten at an excellent 70 and top-order Khawaja scored a half-century. As the 3rd day ended, Australia chose to end their 2nd innings as well and they declared, leaving West Indies to score 460 runs in the remaining two days to win the match.
Winning the 2nd Test in the 3-match series meant Australia have retained the Frank Worrell trophy for 20 years successfully. The streak stretches back in time to Mark Taylor’s team triumphing in the Caribbean in 1995.
The Australians had to toil hard for the West Indies’ wickets, when compared to their effort from the 1s Test. The Australians might have had ended the match a little early if the bowlers hadn’t had over-stepped on 3 wicket-taking occasions, where the West Indies batsmen returned back to the crease after being adjudged out in the first call.