Australia will look for greater contribution from its top order; Rogers ruled out of second Test too
Australia’s nine-wicket win in the series opener in Roseau was inspired by Adam Voges, who at 35 became the oldest debutant to score a Test century. It was the trigger that the side needed to pull itself out of the woods before stamping its authority over a West Indies side that showed admirable fight.
Now, the setting moves to Sabina Park in Kingston as West Indies, which levelled the series after going 1-0 down to England after the first Test in April, seeks a repeat when the second Test gets underway on Thursday (June 11).
West Indies can take heart from the fact that it troubled David Warner, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke, the captain, and Shane Watson with disciplined lengths in the first Test. That Australia recovered smartly was due to the resilience of the tail that supported Voges in adding 192 runs for the last four wickets, setting up a substantial lead and eventually a victory.
Chris Rogers was ruled out for the second successive game due to the recurrence of symptoms of concussion that kept him out of the first Test too. Rogers, who had been struck on the head during nets in the lead-up to the first Test, will be continuously monitored by the team's medical staff. Shaun Marsh will therefore continue to partner David Warner at the top of the order.
While the team management would want its top order to fire in unison, coach Darren Lehmann must be particularly pleased with the efforts of the bowlers. Josh Hazlewood led the way in the first innings, while Mitchell Starc came into his own on the third afternoon just as Marlon Samuels and Shane Dowrich were in the middle of an excellent stand.
West Indies will be banking on a young batting line-up to come through a stern examination once again. Dowrich, who made 70 in his second innings on debut, is already being talked of as a future mainstay along with the stylish Shai Hope. With Darren Bravo also having shown the ability to rise to the occasion, Phil Simmons, the coach, would be hoping his side is able to sustain momentum and overcome blips in concentration.
As is the case most times, the composition of both sides will depend on the surface. With the weather expected to be sunny right through the course of the Test, Australia will be tempted to bring in Fawad Ahmed, the legspinner, if the surface is a touch dry. West Indies too won’t mind a surface that aids spin as it would mean Devendra Bishoo, who impressed with figures of 6 for 80 in the first innings in Roseau, would have an opportunity to showcase his ability once again.
A good performance for Australia would mean another step closer to its preparation for a big summer of cricket that culminates with the Ashes. For West Indies, it will be another opportunity to stand up and be counted against a quality side which is ranked No. 2 in the world in Test cricket.
West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (capt, wk), Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Rajindra Chandrika, Shane Dowrich, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo.
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wk), Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson. Fawad Ahmed.