Head in command after Labuschagne departs for 163
Starting at 330 for 3, Australia’s stranglehold on the day-night contest tightened with a dominant first session
Australia 436 for 4 (Head 172*, Labuschagne 163, Thomas 2-53) vs West Indies
Marnus Labuschagne fell for 163 before the dinner break on day two but Travis Head closed in on a maiden Test double century, as Australia continued to make an uninspired West Indies toil in the second Test at Adelaide Oval.
Starting at 330 for 3, Australia’s stranglehold on the day-night contest tightened with a dominant first session as they eye a third straight declaration in this one-sided two-Test series.
Labuschagne and Head combined for a 297-run partnership, the third-highest fourth-wicket partnership for Australia against West Indies.
The beleaguered tourists have taken just 10 wickets in more than 300 overs in the series having lost the first Test in Perth by 164 runs.
They had brief respite with the wicket of Labuschagne, who fell short of a second double ton amid his purple patch of three straight centuries. The No.1 ranked Test batter also passed 3000 Test runs in just his 51st innings with only Don Bradman reaching the landmark faster for an Australia batter.
Hometown hero Head, however, passed his highest score of 161 to continue dominating a lacklustre West Indies attack much to the delight of the Adelaide Oval faithful.
West Indies once again rued sloppy bowling, while skipper Kraigg Brathwaite’s tactics were rather puzzling underlined by often not implementing a gully in a conservative move.
He was generally reactionary, but a second-string attack hasn’t helped his cause.
A shorthanded West Indies attack, without spearheads Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales, were further depleted with debutant quick Marquino Mindley likely out for the match after suffering a hamstring injury early on day one after bowling just two overs.
Mindley had arrived in Adelaide from the Caribbean just 48 hours before the Test as injury cover.
Amid their increasing woes, West Indies desperately needed a spark on day two and speedster Alzarri Joseph belatedly tried to provide one with several menacing short deliveries to test Labuschagne reminiscent of his fiery spell on day four in Perth.
With the surface appearing quicker than on day one, marked by tennis ball-like bounce, Joseph frustratingly couldn’t penetrate for long enough with debutant Devon Thomas showing up the frontline bowlers.
Having taken the wicket of opener Usman Khawaja on day one, Thomas’ handy seamers again did the trick and he removed Labuschagne and then almost dismissed Cameron Green, who edged his first ball of the series in front of the slips.
It was a brief bright spot for West Indies after being plundered by Labuschagne and Head, who notched their 200-run partnership on the second ball of the day’s play.
Head had capitalised on overpitched West Indies bowling en route to a rollicking first hundred in front of home faithful. He encountered more accurate bowling early on day two and was fortunate that a rare edge sailed through the slips to the boundary.
Normal service resumed with Head flamboyantly slashing over gully for consecutive boundaries as he overtook Labuschagne to reach 150 with a boundary off the innocuous spin of Roston Chase.
Labuschagne also reached the landmark before his surprise wicket, as a focused Head batted cautiously through to the break knowing he has a golden opportunity at his fingertips.