Marnus Labuschagne hits 154 as Australia dominate the West Indies



Marnus Labuschagne cracked a masterful unbeaten 154 while Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith hit 50s as dominant Australia dominated the opening Test against the West Indies at Perth Stadium on Wednesday.

The hosts reached 293-2 at stumps on the first day after captain Pat Cummins decided to bat in the hot and dry conditions.

The total was built off the back of the podium of 142 runs between Labuschagne and Khawaja, who combined after David Warner was out for five, then an unbeaten 142 with Smith.

Also read | Australia v West Indies, first test in Perth points on day one

Concentrated Labuschagny, who escaped chances on 75 and 137, spawned an eighth century in his 29th Test and with Smith in form unbeaten on 59, the omens are not good for the visitors, who have failed to win a Test in Australia for 25 years.

“When you finish the day at about 300 for two, you feel relaxed. It was good to build partnerships throughout the day,” LaPuccini said.

“To score a hundred Tests at any one time is amazing, so hopefully being able to do that in the first Test of the summer can prepare you for this game, as well as the summer.

He added, “It was all about the process, build the whole game around it and not worry about anything else.”

The West Indies had plenty of discipline in front of just 10,929 spectators, but chances were few and far between.

After taking Warner’s early wicket for five, they had to toil for hours in the heat for another carry, as Khawaja amassed 65 before he edged Kyle Myers off Joshua da Silva just before lunch.

“We played well in bursts, but we didn’t get breaks,” said West Indies coach Phil Simmons.

“We’ll look to get a couple of wickets early tomorrow and try to tie them up again that way. Even if they get 450 we’re still in it because I think the wickets look like they could improve.”

Labushagne and Khawaja came together after Warner fell to young peacemaker Jayden Sales, barely missing a foot.

They had to work hard in the opening session of the first test between the two sides for nearly seven years, reaching 72-1 at lunch.

But they accelerated after the break with Labuschagne bringing up his 50 with a three off Jason Holder.

He was soon followed by the faultless Khawaja, who has been a rock at the top of the order this year, cracking spinner Roston Chase for four and then a single to reach his half-century of 18th in his 52nd Test.

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Khawaja has scored four Test centuries and reached the 90s twice in the last 12 months, with more glory to come.

But he was undone by a sweet delivery from Myers, which clipped the outside edge of his racket and was an easy catch for Da Silva.

Undeterred, Labuschagne hit three figures off 192 balls, to make his target with his 13th boundary.

Smith returned to the traditional batting style that saw him score 94 and an unbeaten 80 in Australia’s final one-day series against England, and he again looked in fine form.

The 33-year-old was unfazed when he passed his 37th Test 50, looking forward to another century to achieve level with the great Donald Bradman on 29.

The visitors wore black armbands to mourn former West Indies wicket-keeper David Murray, who died last week, and kept Warner and Khawaja in check in the opening matches.

Warner’s first offensive shot saw Seals pull the boundary in the fourth.

But left-handed aggression cost him the next ball when he tried to drive a wider distribution only to have it pulled back into his stumps.

The West Indies were dealt a blow before the match with Raymond River ruled out after suffering a thigh injury.

They handed debut to batsman Taginaren Chanderpaul, son of the retired great Shivnarine.

Top-ranked Australia made just one change from their last Test against Sri Lanka in July, with pacer Josh Hazlewood in the role of spinner Mitchell Swebson.

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