Australia close in on victory

PERTH: Australia were one wicket away from a series-clinching win as the West Indies ended the fourth day on 308-9 in the third Test here today.

The home side were granted a half-hour extension of play by the umpires but were unable to finish the job. Narsingh Deonarine (82) and Brendan Nash (65) shared a stand of 128 as they chased a target of 359. But only last-wicket pair Kemar Roach and Gavin Tonge remain, with 51 still needed on the final day.

They survived the last six overs, adding 29 runs with Roach 13 not out and Tonge on 12, but it would be a massive surprise if they managed to steer their side to a victory which would see the series shared 1-1. West Indies did what was needed at the start of play by picking up the last two wickets cheaply as Australia were all out for 150. Clint McKay was caught at cover from a leading edge off spinner Sulieman Benn and Nathan Hauritz edged a ball from Dwayne Bravo to first slip, giving the all-rounder figures of 4-42.

Although scoring 359 was a huge task for West Indies, there was a glimmer of hope as South Africa scored 414-4 to beat Australia on the same ground 12 months ago. The onus, however, was on skipper Chris Gayle, who made a blistering 102 off 72 balls in the first innings. This time Gayle was in more sedate mood and was outscored by opening partner Travis Dowlin, who made 22 before trying to pull a ball from Doug Bollinger and giving an easy catch to square leg.

Gayle (21) inside-edged to be caught behind off Shane Watson and Ramnaresh Sarwan was guilty of giving his wicket away when he tried to square cut the last ball before lunch from spinner Hauritz and edged to keeper Brad Haddin. The mini-collapse was halted by Deonarine, in his first Test for four years, and Nash, who kept the Australian attack at bay throughout the afternoon session.

Deonarine reached a worthy half century off 83 balls with his second six off Hauritz and as the total mounted towards 200, there was reason for anxiety among home supporters. But Watson broke the partnership when he found a way through Deonarine’s defence and Australia were celebrating again in the next over as Bravo (one) was caught in the gully as he tried to drive an angled delivery by Mitchell Johnson.

Debutant McKay weighed in with his first wicket in Test cricket, removing Denesh Ramdin (14), but the real body blow for West Indies was the loss of Nash, whose four-and-a-quarter-hour innings ended disappointingly when he offered no stroke to a ball from Bollinger and was bowled.

Benn continued his eventful match by racing to 33 off 28 balls, with the help of two sixes off Johnson.

The latter was his final scoring stroke as an attempt to whip the next delivery through square leg saw him caught by Theo Doropoulos. Johnson claimed his second success in the same over when Ravi Rampaul (10) was taken by a diving McKay at mid-off.