West Indies hold a 35-run lead over Australia after a day of punch and counterpunch, and a bold declaration by Pat Cummins has left the Gabba pink-ball Test evenly poised.
Opener Usman Khawaja (75) was the rock for Australia against a venomous visiting pace attack on Friday’s day two.
He featured in two vital partnerships with the rollicking Alex Carey (65 off 49 deliveries) and swashbuckling Cummins (64no off 73) in his highest Test score to ensure Australia recovered from a dire 5-54 to declare at 9-289 after West Indies were dismissed for 311.
Cummins called for a review from the last ball before stumps and Tagenarine Chanderpaul (four) was given out caught behind leaving West Indies 1-13.
Earlier, West Indies opening bowlers Kemar Roach (3-47) and Alzarri Joseph (4-84) stunned Australia’s top order.
Steve Smith (six) failed again as an opener when Roach had him lbw in the first over.
Joseph had a tentative Marnus Labuschagne brilliantly caught by a diving Kevin Sinclair at fourth slip before Roach removed Cameron Green (eight) and Travis Head for a first ball duck in successive deliveries.
“I am glad about the energy we brought today and it puts us in a pretty even position,” Roach said.
“Alzarri bowled really well and really quick. I am pretty happy with the way we went about it as a bowling group.
“Now it is all about piling on the runs and seeing how many we can get.”
Khawaja, ICC Test cricketer of 2023, was in serene form and appeared to be playing on a different surface to his teammates. His partnerships of 96 with Carey and 81 with Cummins, the ICC cricketer of the year, were key in Australia’s revival.
West Indies offspinner Sinclair did a backflip somersault to celebrate the opener’s wicket, his first in Test cricket. The debutant had earlier made a vital 50 to lift his side to a competitive total.
Carey made his own luck with the bat after enjoying a huge slice of it. Australia’s wicketkeeper was on eight, and Australia 5-72, when a ripping delivery from Shamar Joseph hit the off stump bail.
It rotated in its groove but did not dislodge and Carey somehow survived.
From that moment, he found top gear with an assortment of cover drives and reverse sweeps.
“The West Indians thought it nicked the bail and I ended up seeing it after (on replay) and rotate in the groove. You need a bit of luck in cricket,” Carey said.
” I felt like I reacted well to what was bowled at me and had good intent.
“To be where we are, after a difficult start, we are certainly in this game of cricket.”
Sinclair and veteran paceman Roach (eight) added 31 for the ninth wicket after the visitors resumed at 8-266.
The 24-year-old Sinclair now has nine first-class half-centuries, with a highest score of 86.
West Indies did well to recover from 5-64 to set Australia a competitive total.
No.5 batter Kavem Hodge (71) and wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva (79) were the stars on day one, while left-armer Mitchell Starc (4-82) was the pick of the Australian bowlers.