Roseau, Dominica: Australia completed a comprehensive nine-wicket victory just before stumps on the third day of the first Test against the West Indies at the Windsor Park Stadium in Dominica on Friday after the home side´s second innings resistance crumbled.
A 144-run fourth-wicket partnership between Shane Dowrich and Marlon Samuels frustrated the visitors, who led after the first innings by 170 runs. However Dowrich´s dismissal for a well-played 70 ten minutes before the tea interval triggered the collapse which saw the last seven wickets tumbling for 35 runs and the West Indies sliding from 181 for three to 216 all out.
Mitchell Starc led the rout with four wickets, the last two off successive deliveries with the second new ball.
Needing just 47 runs for victory, Australia wasted no time in knocking off the runs in gathering gloom in just five overs for the loss of the rampant David Warner, who plastered 28 off 20 deliveries before falling to Jerome Taylor.
In his first Test match, Dowrich´s defiant knock in over four hours at the crease was an admirable effort given the state of the match, the condition of a wearing pitch and the perseverance of the Australians in seeking to turn the screws on a West Indies side that looked completely deflated at the end of the second day when Adam Voges´ debut unbeaten hundred, an effort that earned him the man of the match award, swung the match completely around.
“It´s been a perfect three days really,” he said on collecting the award. “Credit to all our guys who worked really hard on what wasn´t an easy pitch to bat on or get wickets.”
Samuels, the most experienced West Indian player following the omission of Shivnarine Chanderpaul ahead of this two-match series, punctuated long periods of defiance with fluent strokeplay, occasionally taking on the challenge presented by frontline spinner Nathan Lyon to reach the topscore of 74.
But he was among the clatter of wickets following the debutant´s demise, top-edging an attempted hook off Mitchell Johnson to be caught at fine leg in a manner that was a carbon copy of his first innings dismissal.
Their partnership had stretched the limit of Australia´s bowling resources, Michael Clarke trying his hand for a couple of overs along with Voges as the visiting captain searched for options to break the stubborn stand.
“West Indies made us fight really hard today but credit to our bowlers for persevering on a wicket that was really slow,” said Clarke about the victory. “Our fielding was really good as well together with our intent with the bat. That´s when we play our best cricket.”
Once the breakthrough came via Shane Watson´s low catch at short mid-on off Josh Hazlewood to get rid of Dowrich, the floodgates opened.
Jermaine Blackwood charged down the pitch to be stumped off Lyon, and after Samuels´s familiar demise, captain Denesh Ramdin played on to give the consistent off-spinner his 141st Test wicket, drawing him level with 19th century player Hugh Trumble as the most successful off-spinners for Australia in Test cricket.
“Dowrich showed the character everyone should have shown,” said Ramdin in reflecting on the collapse after the debutant´s dismissal. “The first innings was critical. We didn´t get enough runs and then couldn´t close out the Australian innings when we should have.”
Samuels had joined Dowrich at the crease 20 minutes into the day when Darren Bravo, the other overnight batsman, fell to an excellent diving catch by Warner at mid-off as the left-hander attempted a lofted drive off Hazlewood. For a player of his experience and given the state of the match, it was a poor shot notwithstanding the continued excellence of the Australians´ catching in this match.