Ponting and Cowan extend lead


Half-centuries from Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting ensured that Australia maintained their grip on the third and final Test against the West Indies in Dominica.

Half-centuries from Ed Cowan and Ricky Ponting ensured that Australia maintained their grip on the third and final Test against the West Indies in Dominica on Wednesday.

The duo shared in a crucial 87-run partnership that took the game away from the home side, and helped Australia go to stumps on day three on 200 for six – an overall lead of 310.

Having secured a handy lead in the first innings the tourists merely needed to avoid a horrendous collapse, and although several batsmen were dismissed cheaply, Cowan and Ponting's fifties made sure that the West Indies did not find a way back into the match.

Australia lost both David Warner and Shane Watson early in their second innings, as they were reduced to 25 for two.

However both Cowan and Ponting were eager to make a lasting impression as they play their final international innings for six months – neither are involved in Australia's limited-overs squads, and were looking to guarantee their place for the next Test assignment – against South Africa in November.

And they did exactly that, with Cowan posting 55 and Ponting 57 – their highest scores of the series.

Australia's dominance had been under question when Watson flicked Shane Shillingford straight to Darren Sammy at leg slip to leave Australia struggling just after lunch.

Warner had already departed before the lunch interval, caught at slip off the bowling of Kemar Roach.

However Cowan and Ponting looked comfortable throughout their partnership, only faltering slightly with their running between the wickets, until Cowan was brilliantly caught at slip by Darren Sammy off the bowling of Narsingh Deonarine.

Ponting added a quick 46 with captain Michael Clarke, but was then out caught when he ducked under a Roach bouncer but neglected to hide his bat.

Clarke became Shillingford's eighth wicket in the match moments later when a lifter took him by surprise and he was caught at short backward square leg for 25.

Matthew Wade fell cheaply before the close of play, trapped lbw by Deonarine, but Michael Hussey saw Australia to stumps on 17 not out.

The West Indies tail had put up some stubborn resistance in the morning, but they were eventually bowled out by Australia for 218.

That gave the tourists a 110-run lead in the first innings despite Shivnarine Chanderpaul's dogged 68 and a useful 31 from Ravi Rampaul.

The hosts began the day on 165 for eight – still a long way short of Australia's 328 all out – but Chanderpaul's stoicism ensured that Australia were made to work hard for the final two wickets.

Chanderpaul and Rampaul extended their partnership to 66 from more than 18 overs before Rampaul eventually became Nathan Lyon's fourth victim, and although Roach scored just nine not out, he occupied the crease for 65 deliveries.

That allowed Chanderpaul to double his overnight score of 34 before he was trapped lbw by Mitchell Starc.