19/04/2024

Australia celebrate a wicket against the West Indies. Photo: cricket.com.au

Australia continued its dominance in pink ball tests, taking the Second test with a brilliant victory against the West Indies at the Adelaide Oval in under four days worth of play. Travis Head scored his first century on his home turf, Marnus Labuschagne continued his fine form, while Scott Boland returned to the side seamlessly.

Ultimately, Australia claimed a 419-run victory, taking the series 2-0 against the West Indies. Here are the top six talking points from the second test.

More Marnus Runs

Coming off the back of a double-century and century in the first test, Marnus Labuschagne came to the crease full of confidence. With David Warner dismissed relatively early once again falling for 21 runs, Marnus was once again forced to build a partnership with Usman Khawaja.

Having got themselves to 130 runs together, Khawaja was trapped LBW, and when Steve Smith was dismissed just one over later, Australia needed to build a strong partnership. Seemingly unimpacted by the quick dismissals, Labuschagne rocketed his way to a century.

He showed he wasn’t troubled by the pink ball swinging more at night which went on adding to his impressive knock even more so. Labuschagne held his class, reaching his tenth career century and continuing his dominance across the two-match series.

However, he wasn’t finished here, hitting a further 63 runs before being dismissed on his 305th delivery.

Head’s Hometown Heroics

Travis Head has come a long way in the last twelve months, hitting his first Ashes hundreds, being awarded the ‘player of the series’, and fully establishing himself as Australia’s number five. However, there is one goal he was yet to have realised, hitting a century on his home turf at Adelaide Oval.

Coming to the crease at a tricky time for Australia, with stand-in captain Steve Smith having recently been dismissed, Head knew he needed to perform. Coming out to a strong reception from the home crowd, he was eager to put in a good showing.

In the only way he knows how, Head was aggressive from the outset, working his way to 50 runs from just 66 deliveries. Having seen Labuschagne reach the triple-figure milestone just 12 overs earlier, everyone knew Head’s intentions.

With a magnificent off-drive the 125th ball he faced, which raced away to the fence, Head reached three figures. He would ultimately finish on 175 runs before being controversially run out. It is the South Australian’s fifth test century and his first of the summer.

The effort with the bat was noticed by match officials, and the hometown hero was rewarded with the Player of the Match award.

Welcome Back Scott

Scott Boland was one of the stories of last summer, being called up for his first test against England on Boxing Day at the MCG, the pressure was mounting from the outset. What followed had to be seen to be believed, on his home ground the Victorian tore through England’s batting lineup in the second innings, taking 6/7.

With the ever-reliable pace trio of Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc fit and firing, it hasn’t been easy for Boland to find his way back into the lineup. The door opened once again for Boland with Cummins picking up an injury in the first test, a opportunity that he was quick to take.

Despite not claiming a wicket in the first innings, Boland was extremely economical, going for just 29 runs at 1.81 from his 16 overs. His efforts with the ball once again shone through in the second innings, tearing the West Indies to shreds late on Day Three.

In the sixth over, Boland claimed three wickets for no runs, picking up the wickets of Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood to have the West Indies reeling at 3/15.

Although he didn’t pick up another wicket for the match, Boland reminded the Australian selectors just how dangerous he can be and has now provided plenty of headaches at selection ahead of the South Africa series.

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Carey’s Incredible Catching

It was milestones aplenty in the second test, joining the party in fine fashion behind the stumps in the second innings was Australian wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

As the debate continued regarding Carey’s position in the side prior to the series, the wicketkeeper silenced a portion of his critics with a record-equalling effort with the gloves in the second innings.

He took six catches in the second innings, making him just the sixth member to ever do so for Australia, ultimately putting him equal top of the most dismissals ever for an Australian wicketkeeper.

However, it is more than safe to say that the catches weren’t exactly regulation, with Carey pulling out some brilliant tricks, particularly the one that saw the back of Roston Chase.

Australia’s number six dilemma

The number six position has long been a topic of debate for the Australian cricket fanbase, and after a strong Ashes series by Western Australian all-rounder Cameron Green, the debate looked to have settled.

However, it has been an incredibly difficult start to the summer for Green, whose confidence looks to be at an all-time low. In the opening match in Perth on home soil, Green did not bat and claimed just one wicket from two innings with the ball.

Unfortunately, his run did not get much better in Adelaide in the second test. Coming to the crease after the mammoth partnership between Labuschagne and Head, Green looked shaky from the outset. Facing his first ball, Green edged one through the slip cordon and was incredibly lucky to survive.

However his most difficult moment came with Travis Head on 175 runs, looking like he could be notching up a double-century. A mix-up in the middle between the pair saw Head runout, with many heaping the blame on Green.

Green struggled for the remainder of his innings, eventually bowled by speedster Alzarri Joseph for just nine runs, which was added to with just five in the second innings.

With the number six position so important to every cricketing side, Australian fans will be hoping Green can get out of his form slump in a timely fashion and get his confidence sky-high once again.

Neser Gets The Ball Rolling

Called up to the side on the morning of the test due to an injury from pace bowler Josh Hazlewood, Michael Neser once again got his chance at international level. The Queenslander made his debut in the Adelaide test last year and picked up two wickets across both innings.

With the home side setting a massive first innings total of 511, Neser got the ball rolling under lights on Day Two, removing both Brathwaite and Brooks. Neser’s ability to swing the ball has never been underestimated, and with the assistance of the pink ball, he provided to be a headache to deal with for the visitors.

Finishing the first innings with 2/34, Neser had a lot of confidence coming into the second innings, and with some brilliance from Alex Carey, would take a further 3/22 off just under 11 overs. Neser’s ability to claim breakthrough wickets at important times is very valuable to the Australian side, and is sure to be a talking point ahead of next year’s Ashes series.

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