PORT OF SPAIN, CMC – Off-spinner Shane Shillingford bowled impressively in his first Test in nearly two years to help West Indies put the brakes on Australia on the opening day of the second Test here Sunday.
The right-armer finished the day with two for 56 from a marathon 32 overs as Australia, winning the toss and batting, closed on 208 for five at Queen’s Park Oval.
Vice-captain Shane Watson top-scored with 56 and captain Michael Clarke got 45 but neither could convert starts into big scores on a difficult surface.
When Watson became Shillingford’s second victim in the last session, West Indies were on top but the resilient Mike Hussey and rookie wicketkeeper/batsman Matthew Wade saw the Aussies to safety with an unbroken 30-run, sixth wicket stand.
Hussey was unbeaten on 26 while Wade finished on 16.
Both left-handers survived chances as Hussey was dropped on five by wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh off Shillingford at 173 for four and Wade survived a sharp chance to Kraigg Brathwaite at silly mid-on off off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine when he was two.
Australia also rode their luck in the opening hour as left-handed openers Ed Cowan and David Warner survived a testing opening burst from West Indies seamers to put on 53 for the first wicket.
Warner hit a customary breezy 29 from 42 balls with four fours while Cowan, quick on the pull but suspect on the front foot, got 28 off 74 balls with five boundaries.
On a pitch offering precious little assistance to the faster bowlers, the new ball pair of Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards bowled impressively to beat the bat on several occasions.
There was drama in the first over of the innings when Warner was given out caught behind for four off the sixth ball from Edwards but captain Darren Sammy quickly withdrew the appeal, indicating the ball had not carried to Baugh.
Replays showed, however, that the ball had brushed the pad – and not the bat – on the way though and there was a strong case for an lbw verdict.
It was Shillingford who got the breakthrough with the fifth ball of his first over when he had Warner caught at slip by Sammy, driving at one that turned fractionally.
Cowan’s labour ended 14 minutes before lunch when he played across a straight one from Roach and was adjudged lbw.
Former captain Ricky Ponting never settled and he had added just two to his lunch score of five when he fell with the score on 83 for three, 20 minutes after the interval.
Roach, who claimed two for 77, squared up the master batsman with one that was angled in and then straightened and the right-hander had no answer as he nicked it behind.
Baugh muffed the catch only for an alert Sammy to pouch the rebound at first slip.
Watson and Clarke then threatened to take the game away from the Windies in a fourth wicket partnership of 84.
The right-handed Watson faced 172 balls and struck seven fours while Clarke, also right-handed, faced 99 balls and hit eight fours.
They took Australia to tea at 132 for three and accelerated afterward with Clarke taking two consecutive boundaries off the second over sent down by Roach.
Clarke, given out lbw on 41 to Shillingford before gaining a reprieve on review, failed to capitalise on his good fortune as he smashed a rank long hop from Deonarine to Shillingford at deep mid-wicket at 167 for four.
Six overs later, Watson popped a sharp catch to Adrian Barath at forward short leg off Shillingford, to leave the Aussies in a spot of bother.
Hussey, however, arrived to do what he does best, overcoming the early chance to Baugh to hit two fours off 83 balls while Wade has faced 47 and counted a single four.