Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards hit half-centuries to guide West Indies to 179 for 3 at stumps against Australia on a rain-shortened opening day on Saturday of the first Test at Kensington Oval.
Edwards hit an enterprising 61 while opener Brathwaite compiled a determined 57. The pair of Barbadians shared a crucial second-wicket stand of 104 bridging lunch. For Australia, seamers Ryan Harris (1 for 29) and Peter Siddle (1 for 36) were the best of the bowlers while part-time legspinner David Warner took 1 for 23.
West Indies got a sound start from Brathwaite and Adrian Barath after captain Darren Sammy won the toss in good conditions. The pair put on 38 in the first hour and a quarter before Harris broke through with the wicket of Barath. The diminutive Trinidadian struck two fours off 54 balls before he top-edged a hook at Harris’ first delivery from around the wicket and picked out Siddle at deep square leg.
Brathwaite and Edwards carried the score to 60 for 1 at lunch and batted with similar resolve after the interval. Edwards was more aggressive, happy to use his feet to the spinners while the 19-year-old Brathwaite was more sedate. Edwards beat Brathwaite to his 50, bringing up his landmark off 97 balls with his eighth four, to go with one lofted six over long-on off Nathan Lyon’s offspin.
Brathwaite’s milestone arrived soon afterwards, off his 163rd delivery, with four fours. Both batsmen benefited from some luck, with the Australians shelling three catches during a frustrating day. Brathwaite was let off when on 10 and 44, Siddle first flooring a hard return catch and Ricky Ponting later failing to hang on to a diving right-handed effort at second slip off Watson.
Edwards’ chance came when he was 56, Watson himself putting down a head-high edge at gully off Siddle, who was the most threatening of the visiting bowlers. Just as the hosts were taking the ascendancy, Warner struck to claim his maiden Test wicket. Edwards, who hit 10 fours and a six, was smartly caught and bowled low down as he tried to force off the back foot.
Brathwaite departed soon after tea at 167 for 3 as Australia battled back. The slim right-hander nibbled at Siddle and edged to provide debutant wicketkeeper Matthew Wade with his first dismissal. Left-hander Darren Bravo was unbeaten on 20 at the close, hitting a six and a four off 60 balls.
Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul compiled 8 not out before light rain and bad light forced an early end an hour after tea.