Australia surge to victory
Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the Frank Worrell Trophy series by clinching a comfortable 177-run win over West Indies on Day 4 of the Boxing Day Test. Ignoring the opportunity to grab a personal milestone with a century in each innings, captain Steve Smith – who ended the third day unbeaten on 70 – made an overnight declaration on 3/179, setting the tourists an improbable 460 for victory.
After a bright start, the Windies steadily lost wickets to be 5/150, effectively sealing their fate. Like in the first innings, the maligned visitors showed some lower order fight before being bowled out for 282 in the 89th over of a gruelling day out in the middle.
Windies spirited in defeat
While the result was comprehensive, West Indies will be heartened by some brave efforts with the bat – despite another overall failure from the top order. Each player got a start, however, with all the top seven scoring 19 or more. A century stand by Denesh Ramdin (59) and skipper Jason Holder (68) was the highlight, briefly raising hopes of a miracle comeback win before Ramdin was the sixth wicket to fall. The vast improvement after the Hobart debacle should see the embattled side head into the New Year’s Test at the SCG with renewed confidence.
— westindies (@westindies) December 29, 2015
Pressured Marsh nabs timely wicket haul
After taking just one wicket in Hobart and none in the first innings at the MCG – combined with very limited opportunities with the bat – Mitch Marsh would have been desperate to make an impact and cement his tenuous all-rounder position in the Australian line-up. That standout effort came in the form of 4/61 from 17.3 overs in West Indies’ second dig, including well-established duo Ramdin and Holder in the space of eight overs to exterminate the tourists’ fight-back. Although he would have held his spot for the SCG clash regardless, his dynamic display with the ball was a timely one ahead of February’s New Zealand tour – particularly after recording just one half-century in 20 Test innings since debuting in October last year.
LISTEN: Mitch Marsh chats with the team after his impressive day with the bowl https://t.co/YtdOpSlBwM
— ABC Grandstand (@abcgrandstand) December 29, 2015
Another Lyon-hearted display
Nathan Lyon proved his value to the Australian side once again, taking out man-of-the match honours courtesy of his seven wickets. Following up his outstanding four-for in the first innings, the spinner took the initial scalp of Kraigg Brathwaite on Tuesday and trapped Jermaine Blackwood and Carlos Brathwaite to help put the hosts on course for another emphatic success. Lyon’s haul pushed him into fifth spot on the list of 2015 Test wicket-takers with 48 wickets at 28.72, behind only Ravi Ashwin, Stuart Broad, Josh Hazlewood and Yasir Shah.
— ICC (@ICC) December 29, 2015
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) December 29, 2015
Around the world
SA v ENG – 1st Test, Day 4: England stand on the brink of a momentous victory in Durban, with South Africa 280 runs short of their victory target with just six wickets in hand. Joe Root (73) and Jonny Bairstow (79) led the way as the tourists reached 326 all out, setting the Proteas a formidable fourth-innings target of 416. Steve Finn (3/27) was the chief destroyer as the hosts slipped to 4/136 by stumps. Crucially, AB de Villiers (37 not out) will resume at the start of Day 5 with injured nightwatchman Dale Steyn.
— AllOutCricket (@AllOutCricket) December 29, 2015