Late on the first night of the Australian Test summer, debutante Tagearine Chanderpaul got another glimpse into the challenges of Test cricket. Marnus Labuschagne attempted an overcut and Chanderpaul, lined up at the deep point, was a bit slow to pick it up. He finally sprinted, but the ball fell. By then Labuschagne was down to just 136. He finished unbeaten with 154, his eighth Test century taking the hosts to a dominant 293/2 at the end of Day 1 in Perth. The West Indies bowlers continued valiantly, not doing too much harm on a pitch. That started a little slow then picked up speed. Few chances were created in the 90 overs, however, as Australia held them off with two 142-run partnerships. First between Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja (65), then later between the Centurion and Steve Smith (59).
West Indies, who lost the morning toss, attacked with the new ball and placed as many as five slips early in the innings. The cordon didn’t see much action as Australia noticeably trailed Holder by an edge.
The visitors, however, snagged an early goal from Jayden Seales, who shrugged off pre-match injury concerns and let David Warner play on a full, wide ball after netting a draw four earlier. Labuschagne got off to a nervous start to his innings with the lively Alzarri Joseph. Harassing him with short ball, even hitting No. 3 Australia on the glove as he deflected. The West Indies switched to the strategy of having two outfielders in the shot. But even these outfielders didn’t see much action.
To the visitors’ credit, they were disciplined with their lines and that meant the Australian pair could not break free. Australia went through a run of 86 balls without scoring a boundary, biding their time to clear. That pressure relief came with the introduction of spin. Labuschagne came out and reeled in Roston Chase for a four, while Khawaja hit an inside out six and a drawn four to add weight to the lunchtime scoreboard.
Between lunch and tea ninety runs came in after 72 came in the first session. An indication of how easier scoring was getting. As in the first session, the West Indies bowlers did not miss much, alternating between four in the slip. Cordon and two in the pull without any success. Seales won a mini fight against Labuschagne, running into No. 3 Australia. With a shot and then seeing a hoop evade the cordon. However, between these plays, play was slow with West Indies trying their best to keep the score in check. However, the pair of Khawaja and Labuschagne managed to put pressure on Roston Chase. The offspinner regularly going over the top for five points.
Both batsmen reached their respective 50s before Kyle Mayers. Finally lost by forcing Khawaja to play with the first pitch of his spell. Mayers, pitched past Jason Holder in the morning session. Continued to impress with his swing and control, giving up just nine runs from his first seven overs.
However, the floodgates opened in the final session. In which Australia saw a clear lead over their opponents with 131 runs without losing a wicket. Steve Smith started positively with a shot for four, while Labuschagne launched a series of offsides. In their attempts to cut the Australian batters, West Indies conceded a number of runs through coverage region. As the first hour after Tea Australia gave up 78 runs. Labuschagne finally came to his century, his seventh in 18 home Tests, with a cut past the point of coverage. Smith, who West Indies tried to rock on film, thrived with plenty of leg side runs and rode for half a century.
Kraigg Brathwaite turned his bowlers over but to no avail. The second new ball at the end of the day resulted in a few plays and misses and an unnecessary DRS dispatch. But nothing more. And that pretty much sums up West Indies fatigue.