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Ruthless Australia tightens grip on Boxing Day Test

Smith, Voges score centuries before bowlers reduce West Indies to 91 for 6 on second day

Ruthless Australia tightens grip on Boxing Day Test - Cricket News
Steven Smith plays a shot against West Indies.
Australia tightened its grip on the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, declaring its first innings closed on 551 for 3 before reducing West Indies to 91 for 6 by stumps on the second day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday (December 27).

When play ended, Darren Bravo was unbeaten on a 75-ball 13, with Carlos Brathwaite, the debutant, accompanying him on 3.

Australia resumed 345 for 3 – after Adam Voges and Usman Khawaja had scored centuries on the first day – and its batsmen were relentless. Steven Smith, the captain, and Adam Voges both plundered centuries to reach respective career milestones.

The two added an unbroken 223-run stand for the fourth wicket in a period of domination. Smith, who was recently named the ICC Cricketer of the Year, became the highest run-scorer in Tests in the calendar year, overtaking Alastair Cook’s 1357 and reaching 1404 runs.

At the other end, Voges crossed personal milestones as well. He went past 1000 runs in Tests on his debut year, ending with a total of 1028 runs in his 18th Test innings. He capitalised fully on a reprieve when on 56, after Bravo put him down in the slips after he edged one off Brathwaite.

After the declaration, the home side’s bowlers were incisive and threatening. Kraigg Brathwaite and Rajendra Chandrika put on a steady 35 for the opening wicket, but Nathan Lyon and James Pattinson had the openers dismissed in quick succession. Brathwaite popped a catch to Joe Burns at short leg for 17 before Chandrika was trapped in front without playing a shot to James Pattinson for 25. Pattinson then had Marlon Samuels lbw for a three-ball duck as West Indies was reduced to 50 for 3.

Jermaine Blackwood then offered support to Bravo, and the two put on a much-needed 32 for the fourth wicket. Blackwood had a successful review, when on 18, for a low catch by Burns off Peter Siddle. However, he couldn’t capitalise on the lifeline, returning a catch to Lyon for his second wicket having scored a 46-ball 28.

That prompted another West Indies slide. From 82 for 3, it was reduced to 83 for 6 as Siddle had both Denesh Ramdin and Jason Holder dismissed for nought in successive deliveries. Brathwaite then saw off Siddle’s hat-trick ball, and West Indies ended the day without further loss of wickets.

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