Aussie captain Pat Cummins has been praised for his 'elite' move to declare short of West Indies' first innings total in a bid to allow Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood a chance to take a wicket. Cummins once again proved why he was named the ICC Player of the Year having come to the rescue for Australia with the bat with an invaluable 64 not out.
The Aussies were humbled on Friday evening when the West Indies ripped through the top order with Steve Smtih's departure starting a tumble that saw Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green and Travis Head all go before dinner.
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Usman Khawaja once again helped steady the innings with a partnership alongside with Alex Carey for 65 runs. With Australia still reeling, Cummins entered the crease after Carey's dismissal and recorded his highest ever knock of 64 runs not out.
However, it was Cummins next move that showed his selflessness as captain of the team. With Khawaja gone and Australia 9-289 still trailing the West Indies who were dismissed for 311, Cummins charged off the field after a sudden declaration following his swashbuckling innings.
Cummins wasn't interested in scoring more himself, but wanted Starc and Hazlewood to have a crack at the West Indies opening pair with the pink ball under lights before day two ended. And five overs in, Starc rewarded Cummins for his faith.
Starc caught the edge of Tagenarine Chanderpaul who was given out caught behind leaving West Indies 1-13. Cummins has come under fire during his two years as captain on a number of occasions for defensive tactics.
Although the fast bowler is proving time and time again that his big calls are paying off. In the ICC World Test Championship final, Cummins opted to bowl first against India and Australia benefited. This time around his unselfish decision to declare 22 runs short of the West Indies allowed his team to benefit heading into day three. It is not hard to see why the ICC named Cummins the Test Player of the Year in 2023 after helping guide Australia to numerous accolades with the ball, bat and in his role as captain.
🏆 Becomes the ICC Men's Cricketer of the Year
🏔️ Scores his highest Test score
💪 Declares with Australia trailing by 22 runs
Pat Cummins, ladies and gentlemen 😎 pic.twitter.com/109BlIXFoe
— Sport360° (@Sport360) January 26, 2024
Pat Cummins are you human? Everytime he is able to pull Australia out of the trouble
We want a DNA test to prove he is human. He is ridiculous 🙏🙏#INDvENG #Gabba #Jaiswal #Gill #CricketTwitterpic.twitter.com/mHUjP3estT
— Sujeet Suman (@sujeetsuman1991) January 26, 2024
It’ll be tense in Australia’s dressing room. The captain’s denied Pat Cummins a shot at a maiden Test hundred. #AUSvWI
— Andrew Wu (@wutube) January 26, 2024
Can’t think of too many other Aussie batters who’ve stepped up and bailed the team out of precarious situations with the bat across formats more often than Pat Cummins in the last 6 months #AusvWI
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) January 26, 2024
Australia declare on 289/9 and they still behind 22 runs on behalf of first innings against West Indies.
- What a call by Captain Pat Cummins..!!! pic.twitter.com/4exRVbLXXD
— CricketMAN2 (@ImTanujSingh) January 26, 2024
Only few overs remaining in the day, Captain Patrick Cummins could've statpadded his hundred, But he declared the innings coz Wi players are tried and Australia can get couple of wickets before the day ends
— FUKRA FAM (@ShahidImra76770) January 26, 2024
Pat Cummins is really a great captain, very unselfish from his part and lyon to go swinging ,get close to the target and give windies 15 overs of batting under lights. Won't be surprised if Windies lose 3-4 wickets with the new ball under lights.
— N (@Vk_is_goat) January 26, 2024
West Indies bowlers rip through Australian order
While Cummins and Khawaja may have stolen the show with their batting fightback, it was the West Indies that showed the resilient spirit to bounce back from a heavy first Test defeat to lead heading into day three.
"I am glad about the energy we brought today and it puts us in a pretty even position," Kemar Roach said having taken 3-47 against Australia.
"Alzarri bowled really well and really quick. I am pretty happy with the way we went about it as a bowling group. Now it is all about piling on the runs and seeing how many we can get." Australia could have been in even more of a hole of Carey was dismissed earlier when the ball clipped the top of the off stump bail, but didn't dislodge it.
Incredibly, the West Indies thoughtCarey was out when they heard a noise. Although replays showed the ball had clipped the bails ever so slightly, without removing them.
"The West Indians thought it nicked the bail and I ended up seeing it after (on replay) and rotate in the groove. You need a bit of luck in cricket," Carey said. "I felt like I reacted well to what was bowled at me and had good intent. To be where we are, after a difficult start, we are certainly in this game of cricket."
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