It’s always fun to watch the underdog try and make a fist of it. West Indies, set 359 to win at the WACA and level the series, were three down for about 80 when I switched the TV on. I watched fleetingly, going about getting breakfast, checking my email, letting the maid clean up, and so on.
A while later I looked up and the score had moved to 140 without further loss. Still a mountain to climb for West Indies. It wasn’t just pushing and prodding and padding up. There were pull shots being attempted, cuts were being squirted past fielders and the frustration was palpable on the faces of the Australians.
Hauritz versus Deonarine isn’t going to get many enthusiasts glued to their TV screens, but there was an intriguing little contest brewing. Deonarine was stuck in the forties for a while, and broke the shackles with a four and six off Hauritz, both hit on dancing feet and over the infield. Suddenly there was a bit of aggression in the chase, and for the next two overs Deonarine’s shot selection turned itchy, like he wanted to continue attacking Hauritz.
Until this point Hauritz had found it difficult. He hadn’t gotten any turn, his flight wasn’t forthcoming, he was plugging away from only around the stumps, and he’d gone for nearly three and a half an over. Perhaps taking a cue from his spinning partner North who, despite the lack of sharp turn showed himself to be a thinker by making Deonarine and Nash play a bit more, Hauritz brought his line closer to off stump. He gave it some more flight, the ball pitched and spat up to clip Deonarine’s glove and then Haddin’s shoulder before it died just in front of Clarke at slip.
A few overs later Hauritz tossed it up generously, tempting Deonarine, and he took up the challenge, striking it well from out of the rough and playing through the line, and got four over mid-off. Hauritz wouldn’t have minded. Almost every time Hauritz gave the ball flight and slowed it up, something happened. An aerial shot, an inside edge, an outside edge falling short.
It was a fantastic session. It began with Deonarine and Nash blocking everything Australia threw their way. Towards the end of it, a slip and silly point were being counter-punched by the pair, who didn’t shy from cutting into the off side. Sliders were also being swept with power, shorter ones pulled over square.
West Indies were fighting, for the second Test running.