West Indies struggle for wickets

Usman Khawaja (Gallo)
Usman Khawaja (Gallo)

Melbourne - Australia dominated the hapless West Indies with another burgeoning stand between Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja on the opening day of the second Test in Melbourne on Saturday.

Burns and fit-again Khawaja were nearing centuries as the Caribbean tourists again struggled to make any impression after losing by an innings and 212 runs in the first Hobart Test.

At tea, the Australians were 193 for one with opener Burns on 83 and Khawaja on 84 in an unbroken 164-run stand for the second wicket.

So far in the series, Australia have amassed 776 runs for the loss of just five wickets as the home side looked to build another formidable first innings total.

It was a personal statement by Burns, whose position in the side had been under threat by the return of Khawaja from a hamstring injury that forced him to miss the last two Tests.

Khawaja continued his rousing form this season after scoring 174 and 121 in the first two Tests against New Zealand last month.

Selectors ultimately decided to make the tough decision to drop Shaun Marsh to fit in Khawaja's return despite Marsh hitting his highest Test score of 182 against the Windies in Hobart.

There was little joy for the maligned Windies although they removed dangerous opener David Warner cheaply for 23 in the fifth over of the innings.

Windies captain Jason Holder won the toss and sent the Australians into bat on a greenish MCG pitch, but a combination of attacking batting and wayward bowling negated any advantage the tourists might have had on winning the toss.

Warner crashed boundaries off Kemar Roach's first three balls before plundering 15 off his opening over.

But Warner was out three overs later when his attempted pull shot lobbed to Marlon Samuels in the covers.

Samuels took three grabs at the ball before taking the catch for a crucial wicket for the Windies, removing Warner for 23 off 12 balls.

The MCG has proved a frustrating Test venue for Warner who averages 25.12 in eight innings at the ground wih his highest score of 62.

The start of play was delayed by rain for an hour with session times adjusted to make up for the later start.

Australia are favoured to win the showpiece Boxing Day Test and retain the Frank Worrell trophy against the struggling tourists.

The West Indies last won a Test in Australia almost 18 years ago.

The West Indies also had a setback before the match when legspinner Devendra Bishoo succumbed to a shoulder injury.

Bishoo, who had been in line for a return to the team, fell heavily while fielding during practice and was sent to hospital for scans on his left shoulder.

The Windies gave bowling all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite his Test debut, following a tour-ending ankle injury suffered by paceman Shannon Gabriel in Hobart, in the only team change.

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