Defiant Brathwaite counters Labuschagne’s record feat as Australia close in on West Indies victory

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Kraigg Brathwaite’s defiant stand left Australia needing seven final-day wickets to secure victory in the first Test with West Indies at Optus Stadium.

Having seen Marnus Labuschagne achieve the rare feat of a double and single century in the same match with his 104 not out, the hosts had declared on 182-2 on Saturday.

With 498 to defend, hopes of an easy cruise to the finish line proved more complicated for Pat Cummins’ side, with the skipper forced off with a quad strain in the fourth innings.

Though he later returned to the field, the tourists proved to be anything but easy pickings in Perth, with Brathwaite (101 not out) leading a spirited charge in pursuit, to finish the day on 192-3.

Nathan Lyon (2-54) and Mitchell Starc (1-36) made some headway with the ball, but there is still work to do for the hosts to finish the job.

Marnus Labuschagne followed his first innings double with a century in the second (Photo: ESPNcricinfo)

The day had appeared to belong to Labuschagne, becoming only the third Australian and eighth player overall to post a double century and a single century across the two innings of a red-ball match.

However, Brathwaite, ably supported by Tagenarine Chanderpaul (45), gave the Windies a glimmer of hope heading into an intriguing final day.

Two declarations the treat for Australia

Having curtailed their own innings twice, it is a testament to the hosts’ dominance that they look absurdly sharp ahead of what will be a busy month that also sees them welcome South Africa for red-ball encounters.

For Labuschagne in particular, with his total score eclipsing his previous best of 274 set against New Zealand in 2020, it proves that his resurgence in Galle against Sri Lanka last month was no fluke, too, in what will be a major relief.

West Indies on brink of defeat

Having seen Australia rack up their second-biggest total against them in the country – behind Sydney in 1969 – it was always going to be a long stretch for the tourists to take this one.

With a full day of cricket ahead, it will take some serious effort from their middle order and tail to either play for a draw or mount a shock result.

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