Rain plays spoilsport in Port of Spain Test

April 20th, 2012 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Port of Spain (Trinidad), April 20 (IANS/CMC) Persistent rain spoiled what could have been an enthralling finish to the second cricket Test between the West Indies and Australia, forcing a stalemate and leaving the hosts with a must-win scenario in the final Test next week.

For Australia the draw was enough to retain the Sir Frank Worrell Trophy, having won the first Test at Bridgetown, Barbados, as they cannot lose the series even if they are beaten in the third and last Test in Dominica. The West Indies can only square the series if they win the last Test, starting Monday.

Set 215 to win after lunch on the final day Thursday, the West Indies had taken up the challenge and reached 53 for two when bad light and then rain halted play half an hour before the scheduled tea interval.

The downpour continued for the next hour-and-half, rendering a result impossible and forcing match officials to abandon the Test around 3.40 p.m.

The West Indies picked up the gauntlet, but Australia grabbed the early initiative as seamer Ben Hilfenhaus struck two telling blows by removing both openers Kieran Powell and Adrian Barath cheaply.

The left-handed Powell was plumb lbw for four to the 10th ball of the innings before the right-handed Barath nicked an outswinger to skipper Michael Clarke at first slip for five. That left the Windies on 13 for two in the fourth over.

Captain Darren Sammy promoted himself to number three and counter-attacked to remain unbeaten on 30 from just 26 balls when the rain came pouring down.

Darren Bravo, unbeaten on eight at the end, was content to defend but Sammy’s fireworks left many wondering what could have been the result if it had not rained.

Earlier, Australia declared at 160 for eight after fast bowler Kemar Roach bowled superbly to take five for 41 and end the game with a 10-wicket match haul.

Resuming at their overnight position of 73 for three, Australia made slow progress in the first session but accelerated after lunch to make a declaration half-hour into the session.

In the 25 overs possible after the start was delayed by 45 minutes because of a wet outfield, Australia made slow progress adding just 50 runs as the West Indies seamers bowled a disciplined line and length to negate the anticipated acceleration in scoring.

Pacer Fidel Edwards, who bowled superbly but without luck, grabbed the first wicket when Ricky Ponting pulled a short ball to Powell at deep mid-wicket for 41 with the score on 93.

The right-hander faced 85 balls and struck three fours.

Fourteen balls later with two runs added, Sammy pouched a brilliant return catch, moving to his right, to account for his opposite number Clarke for 15.

Going to lunch at 123 for five, Australia added 37 runs from 6.5 overs as they worked their way towards a declaration.

However, Roach accounted for left-hander Mike Hussey bowled off the under edge for 24 at 145 for six before comprehensively bowling Hilfenhaus three balls later.

Three overs later, off-spinner Shane Shillingford picked up Nathan Lyon for three, top-edging a sweep for Sammy to take a simple catch running around to short leg.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade was unbeaten on 31 when the declaration came.

–IANS/CMC
vs/sr/vt

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