Image:West Indies batsman Darren Bravo (C) hits past Australian bowler James Pattinson during their third cricket test at the SCG in Sydney, January 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Kraigg Brathwaite and Darren Bravo compiled an unbroken stand of 79 to drive West Indies to 92 for one at lunch on the opening day of the dead rubber third test against Australia on Sunday.
Shai Hope (nine) was the only wicket to fall in the opening session as Brathwaite, who will resume on 50 after making his eighth test half century, and Bravo (32 not out) built on an improved West Indies batting performance in Melbourne last week.
West Indies captain Jason Holder, hoping to avoid a 3-0 series sweep, won’the toss and decided to send out his opening batsmen at an overcast Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), where the floodlights were required from the opening over.
Brought into the side as a late replacement for Rajenda Chandrika when the opener suffered a groin strain in the warm-up, Hope lasted just 17 balls before he attacked a Josh Hazlewood delivery and nicked behind to Peter Nevill.
It was a rare moment of carelessness from the tourists, who took their time to play themselves in, to the extent that the first boundary came from Brathwaite in the seventh over after 25 minutes.
Anticipating turn, Australia fielded two spinners for the first time at an SCG test in a decade with Stephen O’Keefe joining first-choice spin option Nathan Lyon.
Off-spinner Lyon was brought on as early as the eighth over but was unable to forge another breakthrough despite getting some sharp movement off a dry-looking wicket.
Left arm orthodox spinner O’Keefe got his chance to bowl his first test deliveries on home soil 15 minutes before lunch and conceded six runs off his first three overs.
Brathwaite brought up a 78-ball half century just before the break by clipping all-rounder Mitch Marsh past long leg for two runs.
After convincing victories in Hobart and Melbourne, Australia had an unassailable 2-0 lead going into the final contest in the series.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O’Brien)
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