Lunch Australia 598 for 4 dec and 182 for 2 dec (Labuschagne 104*, Warner 48, Roach 1-30) lead West Indies 283 by 497 runs
Marnus Labuschagne added an unbeaten century to his first-innings 204 to help set up Australia’s declaration at lunch on the fourth day against an injury-hit West Indies in the Perth Test.
Australia declared 497 runs in front after Labuschagne rode some luck to become just the third Australian after Greg Chappell and Doug Walters to score a double-century and century in the same Test. He reached the milestone just before lunch with a glance to the boundary and celebrated by taking off his helmet and raising his arms aloft much to the delight of the sparse crowd.
Labuschagne’s 308 runs in the Test came amid a personal run spree at Optus Stadium after he scored 143 and 50 against New Zealand three years ago in the last Test played at the ground.
But opener David Warner missed an opportunity to make a big score after falling for 48 in the first session. Warner, who has not made a Test century since January 2020, was unable to convert a strong start and fell to spinner Roston Chase just after the morning drinks break.
He made 5 in the only failure in Australia’s massive first innings. With Australia in such a commanding position, Warner eyed a big score and looked solid in his 71-ball knock before poking a full Chase delivery to short leg.
Starting day four at 29 for 1, there were no obvious signs of aggression initially from Labuschagne and Warner on a pitch with fewer cracks than expected because of the mild weather in recent days.
But quick Alzarri Joseph conjured sharp bounce to get Labuschagne top-edging to gully via his helmet but the batter’s seemingly never-ending good fortune continued as it was adjudged a no-ball.
After receiving medical attention, Labuschagne continued on his merry way and passed 2000 Test runs in Australia in his 31st innings. Only Sir Don Bradman (19 in England and 26 in Australia), and Sir Garfield Sobers (29 in West Indies) have achieved the milestone in a country faster.
It was probably needed earlier in the match, but Joseph summoned a vicious burst during a riveting battle with Labuschagne, who occasionally found himself swaying awkwardly trying to combat the hostile short-pitched bowling.
But Labuschagne, in trademark fashion, pounced on anything loose and notched his half-century with a gorgeous straight drive to the boundary off quick Jayden Seales. He lifted his aggression to reach his ninth Test century just minutes before the lunch break.
With their backs against the wall, after such a listless bowling and fielding effort over the first two days, West Indies’ quicks produced occasional fireworks but breakthroughs were hard to find amid a waiting game over when Australia will declare.
Spearhead Kemar Roach limped off the field just before the drinks break after appearing to injure a left quad in his follow through. Roach had bowled well late on day four and claimed the wicket of opener Usman Khawaja.
Kyle Mayers, who was perhaps underused in Australia’s first innings, has not bowled in the innings because of a strain in his right teres major muscle.
Adding to the injury woes, top-order batter Nkrumah Bonner was on day three substituted out of the match with concussion after being hit in the back of the helmet from a Cameron Green short delivery.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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