04/03/2024

Marnus Labuschagne finished Day 1 unbeaten on 154 runs off 270 balls. (Photo: cricket.com.au)

Australia took the honours on Day One of the first Test against the West Indies, headlined by a magnificent century from Marnus Labuschagne.

Labuschagne was well supported by Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith at the top of the order, with Australia finishing the day in a dominant position at 2-293.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day One at Optus Stadium.

Son of a gun earns his Test debut

Following in his father’s footsteps, Tagenarine Chanderpaul became the 330th men’s Test cricketer for the men in maroon. 

It would be none other than the legendary Brian Lara to present Chanderpaul with his debut cap, almost 29 years after he witnessed his father Shivnarine make his Test debut at Georgetown.

Now with his own chance at Test level, Tagenarine Chanderpaul will be hoping to forge a long and successful career. He’s certainly earnt his opportunity, having registered six 100s and 11 half-centuries at first-class level.

More recently, Chanderpaul posted scores of 119 and 56 against the Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra, all but sealing his position in the West Indies XI for the opening Test. 

His father scored 62 runs on debut in 1994. Will Tagenarine follow suit?

Remember the name

After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Australia got off to a less-than-ideal start to proceedings, losing opener David Warner in just the fourth over of the match. Warner chased at a wide delivery outside off, inside edging the ball onto his leg stump. 

It was a clever piece of bowling from Jayden Seales, who followed a short ball with a tempting delivery outside the off stump to draw a false shot. Warner departed the crease for five runs off 16 balls. 

Seales will be one to watch over this two-match series, with the 21-year-old already boasting an impressive bowling average of 21.77 across nine Tests. A series against England earlier this year saw Seales pick up 11 wickets.  

Australia consolidates before lunch

A disciplined West Indies bowling attack tested the patience of Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne throughout the remainder of the first session. Yet the Queensland pair dug in and settled comfortably at the crease, reaching the lunch break with Australia well-placed at 1-72. 

An enthralling battle ensued between Labuschagne and Alzarri Joseph, with the West Indies quick targeting the body of Australia’s number three off his very first delivery. A succession of dot balls followed as Labuschagne was forced to weather the storm. 

However, batting gradually got easier as play drew closer to the lunch interval. This was especially the case for Khawaja, who capitalised on the introduction of spinner Roston Chase to the bowling crease, hitting a magnificent six over cover.

Khawaja and Labuschagne finished the first session on 36 and 26 runs respectively. 

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Khawaja & Labuschagne up the tempo

Despite a testing start to the second session, the Aussies increased the scoring rate post-lunch, generating significant momentum on a slightly quicker wicket.

The West Indies bowling attack began to stray in their line and length, with Labuschagne punishing anything which drifted onto his pads to eventually reach his half-century. Both Khawaja and Labuschagne appeared comfortable in the middle, bringing up a well-constructed 100-run partnership.

However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic for the Australians. Jayden Seales’ second spell saw him elicit consecutive false shots from Labuschagne.

A well-directed bouncer climbed on Labuschagne, resulting in an unconvincing top edge that flew for four. Seales then proceeded to capture the outside edge of Labuschagne’s bat, only for the ball to cruelly float past a vacant third slip region.

Kyle Mayers gets the breakthrough…Labuschagne nearly follows

The long-awaited return of Kyle Mayers to the bowling attack immediately paid dividends for the West Indies, dismissing the set Khawaja for 65 runs with a skillful delivery only 20 minutes prior to the tea break. The wicket-taking ball was Mayers’ very first of his second spell.

Angling the ball in from around the wicket, Mayers lured Khawaja into fending at the ball slightly away from his body, drawing the outside edge as the Kookaburra nipped away off the seam. Joshua Da Silva took care of the rest behind the stumps, ending a productive 142-run partnership between Khawaja and Labuschagne. 

What followed was a superb over from veteran Kemar Roach, with West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite sensing an opportunity to grab another wicket heading into tea. A lapse in concentration from Labuschagne saw him flash at a wide full delivery outside off, flying just past the outstretched right hand of Jason Holder.

Roach then backed this up with two consecutive deliveries which beat the bat of Labuschagne, both only a whisker away from finding the edge.

However, Labuschagne and Steve Smith ensured that they remained not out at the tea break, leaving Australia in a commanding position at 2-162.

Marnus reaches Test ton number eight at his happy hunting ground

Arriving at the crease early on Day 1, Labuschagne played a true number three’s batting innings, culminating in his eighth Test match century.

The 28-year-old brought up the milestone with a boundary through point, capturing the admiration of spectators and the broader Australian cricket public. Labuschagne hit 13 fours on his way to 100, combining patience with controlled aggression on a testing Perth pitch. 

Labuschagne’s innings serves as an ominous sign for what may still be yet come during the Australian summer.

Smith on song

Overcoming an awkward period before the tea break, Steve Smith quickly signaled his intent in the final session, pouncing on a short-pitched ball and despatching it to the square-leg boundary immediately after tea.

It was merely a sign of things to come from the 33-year-old, who looked assured at the crease until the very last delivery of the day’s play. Smith was strong through the covers, attacking, and well-balanced.

It’s easy to see why Smith believes he’s feeling the best he’s felt in six years.

Second new ball fails to deliver a breakthrough

Late in the day’s play, the West Indies were hoping that the second new ball would provide them with some much-needed wickets. However, it wasn’t to be, as the Aussies repelled the tourist’s attempts to drag themselves back into the contest.

For the most part, Smith and Labuschagne looked comfortable against the new ball, shouldering arms when necessary whilst also keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

Yet a peach of a delivery from Jason Holder in the final over of Day 1 came agonisingly close to dismissing Labuschagne. Holder generated swing, seam, and bounce to leave the established batter in all sorts. The charismatic Labuschagne could only applaud Holder, expressing ‘Oh Jason, that’s a delicious ball!’. 

Nevertheless, both Labuschagne and Smith remained unbeaten at the close of play. The centurion is on 154 runs off 270 deliveries, whilst Smith is tracking nicely on 59 runs off 107 balls. 

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