Starc’s Fiery Spell Rocks West Indies at Gabba

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Australia dominated the opening session at the Gabba as Mitchell Starc’s fiery spell left West Indies reeling at dinner, with the visitors losing five wickets after opting to bat. Starc claimed three wickets, reaching his 350th Test scalp, while Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins picked up one each. The West Indies’ top order struggled with extra bounce, as five of the top six fell to edges they could have avoided. Despite steady innings from Tagenarine Chanderpaul and Kirk McKenzie, Starc’s burst before the break swung the momentum firmly in Australia’s favor.

Australia’s pace trio of Starc, Hazlewood, and Cummins made a significant impact in the first session at the Gabba, reducing West Indies to 64 for 5 at dinner. Starc, in particular, shone by claiming three wickets, including his 350th Test scalp. Hazlewood and Cummins provided valuable support, each picking up a wicket. The West Indies, after electing to bat, faced a challenging period with Australia’s quicks exploiting the bounce on offer.

The troubles for West Indies began with Kraigg Brathwaite’s dismissal, lured into a half-hearted drive by Hazlewood. Chanderpaul and McKenzie showed resilience, steadying the innings momentarily. Chanderpaul displayed skill with two cut shots and a delightful on-drive, while McKenzie showcased aggression by hitting Nathan Lyon for a six. However, McKenzie’s attacking approach led to his downfall as he nicked Cummins while attempting a cut shot.

Starc’s return to the attack proved devastating for West Indies, claiming three quick wickets. Chanderpaul fell to an unnecessary defensive shot, Athanaze nicked a wide delivery, and Greaves succumbed to an edge off the last ball before the break. Starc’s exceptional performance left him just four wickets behind Dennis Lillee on Australia’s all-time list.

West Indies, choosing to bat first, faced a challenging session, with their top order failing to counter Australia’s pace battery effectively. The decision to include debutant Kevin Sinclair in place of Gudakesh Motie did not yield the desired results. Sinclair received his Test cap before play from former West Indies and Guyana allrounder Carl Hooper. Despite the disappointments, West Indies remained hopeful of a comeback in the subsequent sessions.

Australia, despite dealing with COVID-19 infections in the camp, stuck with their winning formula. Allrounder Cameron Green and coach Andrew McDonald had tested positive, but Head, who also had a positive test earlier in the week, tested negative. Green maintained distance during anthems and celebrations but played at gully. Khawaja, declared fit after recovering from a head injury in the Adelaide Test, took two catches at first slip.

The session belonged to Australia, but West Indies would look for a resurgence in the remaining sessions. The contributions of Starc, coupled with disciplined bowling from Hazlewood and Cummins, put Australia in a commanding position. The West Indies, however, would seek a strong recovery, hoping their middle and lower order can stabilize the innings after the dinner break. The day promises more thrilling cricket as the battle between bat and ball unfolds at the Gabba.

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By- Sahiba Suri

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