Off-spinner Nathan Lyon took six wickets to lead Australia, minus a bowler in Pat Cummins, to a hard-fought 164-run victory over a gritty West Indies on day five of the first Test at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
Cummins took to the field on day five but did not bowl after experiencing mild quadricep soreness on day four. But Lyon starred for Australia, picking 6/128 off 42.5 overs. He claimed the last two West Indies wickets off successive balls at the fag end of the second session for Australia to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The win also sees Australia boost their lead at the top of the World Test Championship (WTC) standings, with their win-percentage at 72.73 per cent. They are now 13 per cent ahead of their closest challenger in second-placed South Africa, who will be coming for a three-Test series later this month.
Starting from 192/3 on day five, West Indies’ hopes were on Kraigg Brathwaite, who batted through two sessions on day four and got his century. But Lyon crashed those hopes of an unlikely win by having Kyle Mayers edge straight to first slip.
It was Lyon’s 443rd Test wicket and moved past fellow off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and jump to eight position on the all-time Test wicket-taking list. He also ended Brathwaite’s brilliant knock at 110 to inch Australia closer to victory.
Jason Holder fell cheaply for three off Travis Head while Joshua da Silva nicked to third slip off Josh Hazlewood as West Indies’ chances began to fade. Roston Chase (55) and Alzarri Joseph (43) provided a glimmer of hope for the West Indies with a gritty partnership of 82. But Head broke the partnership by castling Joseph and Lyon took the last two wickets to ensure Australia retained the Frank Worrell Trophy.
The only bad news to come from the victory for Australia was question marks over the fitness of Cummins, whose fitness will be monitored ahead of the second Test in Adelaide starting from December 8.
West Indies also have fitness concerns with fast-bowling leader Kemar Roach going off the field on day four after injury to left thigh, while Mayers did not bowl in Australia’s second innings due to strain to his right teres major.
Nkrumah Bonner suffered a concussion while batting in the first innings and had to be substituted by Shamrah Brooks. The visitors will be joined by fast bowler Marquino Mindley coming in as an injury cover.
Brief Scores: Australia 598/4 dec and 182/2 dec beat West Indies 283 and 333 (Kraigg Brathwaite 110, Roston Chase 55, Lyon 6-128) by 164 runs.