Sports

Lyon continues outstanding Perth record with six to secure victory

Australia 598 for Dec 4 (Labuschagne 204, Smith 200*, Head 99, Khawaja 65) and 182 for Dec 2 (Labuschagne 104*) beat West Indies 283 (Braithwaite 64, Chanderpaul 51) and 333 (Brathwaite 110, Chase 55, Lyon 6-128) by 164 runs

Nathan Lyon took six wickets to superbly lead a Pat Cummins empty attack as Australia had to work against a gritty West Indies before recording a convincing 164-run victory in the first Test at Optus Stadium.

Lyon loomed as the talisman of the attack in the absence of Cummins, who took the field on day five but failed to bowl after experiencing quadriceps pain, playing 6 for 128 from 42.5 overs. He claimed the last two wickets in consecutive balls late in the second session as Australia claimed the series opener.

Lyon had previously taken captain Kraigg Brathwaite’s key wicket in the first session to sink the West Indies, who played their first Test in Australia since January 2016. He continued his strong record at Optus Stadium having now 22 wickets from three Tests.

Australia appeared to be poised for victory shortly after lunch, but were put to work by Roston Chase and Alzarri Joseph, who put together an enterprising 82-run eighth partnership.

They swung mightily to ruin Lyon’s numbers and propel the West Indies past 300 runs as Australia looked flat without Cummins.

Australia may have begun to think of the ghosts of their recent inability to eradicate opposition in the fourth innings. But Travis Head’s part-time spin, who previously fired Jason Holder, did it and he broke the nasty stand by bowling Joseph.

Cummins did not bowl to raise doubts about his availability ahead of the day-night second Test that begins at Adelaide Oval on Thursday. As he did late on day four after starting the innings in the locker room, Cummins was on the field but at one point appeared to move gingerly in a chase to the boundary.

The West Indies started day five 192 for 3 and needed 306 runs for an improbable win with their hopes set on Brathwaite going through two sessions on day four.

But the task may have proved predictably too difficult despite their best rearguard action. Kyle Mayers had a lucky early escape after surviving an lbw whoop from Lyon, with replays later showing he had gone to a silly point inside.

Lyon had the last laugh as Mayers brought a good length delivery to first slip. It was Lyon’s 443rd Test wicket to take him past fellow offspinner R Ashwin to move up to eighth in the league table. the all-time Test wicket list.

After batting aggressively late on day four, Brathwaite returned to his trademark defensive approach in an attempt to fend off Australia’s attack. After effectively collaring Lyon the previous day, notably countering the bouncing with superb sweeps, Brathwaite finally counterattacked with a belligerent frontier over a long time.

But Brathwaite’s brilliant thrashing soon came to an end as he was bowled by Lyon and the West Indies’ slim chances of avoiding defeat went with him as he trudged off the ground to a loud ovation from the few fans who took advantage of the gold coins of the day.

After Brathwaite’s dismissal, Jason Holder tried to hold back but fell rashly on Head, with Steven Smith making a brilliant diving catch at slip and it was only a matter of time before Australia sealed victory.

In the first test match in Perth since December 2019 there was a lot of hype about the surface being raised with 10mm of grass on it. But despite the occasional sharp bounce, the field missed the expected fireworks display with bowlers struggling for wickets.

After gritty batting throughout their two innings, defying pre-match expectations, the West Indies’ shoddy bowling and poor fielding were appreciated as their attack took just six wickets in 189.4 overs.

They had no answer for Australia’s top scorer, particularly Marnus Labuschagne who made 308 runs for the match to continue a personal run at Optus Stadium after scoring 143 and 50 against New Zealand three years ago.

Smith also scored a double century in the first innings and Australia’s dominance was underlined by all-rounder Cameron Green not getting a chance to bat in his first home test.

The beleaguered West Indies will need to recover quickly after their 25-year Test drought in Australia continued. Adding to their woes is the West Indies worrying about his fitness, with spearhead Kemar Roach forced out on day four after injuring his left thigh, while Mayers failed to bowl in Australia’s second innings due to a strain in his right teres major muscle.

Top storage man Nkrumah Bonner was substituted out of the game on day three with a concussion after being hit in the back of the helmet by a short hit from Green.

After some limited fanfare in the build-up, the crowd was modest with around 40,000 fans in attendance for the match. It was expected how local fans would react to the fallout from ex-coach Justin Langer’s recent inflammatory interview, but there was no visible sign of animosity towards the Australian team.

Despite perhaps being pushed for longer than expected, Australia ultimately made a strong start to the testing summer after a difficult recent period on and off the field.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist from Perth

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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