Defiant Brathwaite counters Labuschagne's record feats as Australia close in on West Indies victory

By Sports Desk December 03, 2022

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.

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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    At the end of February 2022, Leeds United bosses had seen enough.

    "This has been the toughest decision I have had to make," said chairman Andrea Radrizzani at the time.

    Leeds had taken just one point from six games, leaving them only two points above the relegation zone. A 4-0 home defeat by Tottenham was the final straw for Marcelo Bielsa, who was dismissed on February 27. 

    At the beginning of February 2023, Leeds United bosses had again seen enough as they parted company with Bielsa's successor Jesse Marsch.

    Leeds have taken just three points from their past seven games, leaving them level on points with Everton in the final relegation spot, albeit having played a game fewer than the three teams below them.

    Unlike Bielsa, who ended the club's long wait to get back into the Premier League and then guided them to a ninth-placed finish in their first season back, Marsch never truly won over the fanbase.

    Whereas Bielsa had murals dedicated to him all over west Yorkshire throughout his time in change, with his exit doing little to impact the esteem he's held in around Leeds, Marsch's year in charge will likely soon be a distant memory.

    Indeed, the 95-word statement put out by the club on Monday confirming his departure – with no comment from Radrizzani or his peers – was as brutal as it was damning.

    And so Leeds are now on the lookout for a new man to keep them in the division, with Carlos Corberan – who has impressed in his four months at West Brom – the early frontrunner to take charge.

    Bielsa is also reportedly among the contenders to succeed the man who succeeded him, while Mauricio Pochettino, Ange Postecoglou and Ralph Hasenhuttl have been touted as other options.

    New manager bounce?

    Pulling the plug on Marsch's tenure was a big call by Leeds chiefs, coming in the same week they face Manchester United in back-to-back Premier League games.

    It will be only the second time in the competition's history that the same two teams have met in successive games, following Arsenal's 2-0 and 4-2 wins over Bolton Wanderers in January 2010.

    Leeds are in a race against time to bring a new man in before the first of those games at Old Trafford on Wednesday, although they then have a further four days ahead of welcoming their fierce rivals back to Elland Road.

    As it stands, Marsch's assistant Chris Armas, who previously worked as Ralf Rangnick's right-hand man at Old Trafford last season, is expected to oversee the midweek match in Manchester.

    A new manager bounce would come in handy for at least one of those games. In the view of many Leeds fans, simply having anyone other than Marsch in the dugout will boost their chances of getting a result.

    Whether it be a caretaker or a permanent head coach, though, history suggests bringing in someone new ahead of playing United very rarely pays off.

    Of the 16 previous occasions a manager or caretaker has taken charge of his first Premier League match against United, the Red Devils have won 12 times, drawn once and lost only three times.

    However, the most recent such instance was just three months ago when Unai Emery inspired Aston Villa to a 3-1 home win against Erik ten Hag's side, ending United's nine-match winning run in such encounters.

    Emery joins an elite list that also includes Alan Curbishley and a certain Jose Mourinho, who masterminded wins over United in their first Premier League games in charge of West Ham and Chelsea respectively.

    Little joy for Leeds

    Perhaps a more telling statistic, though, is the one that highlights just how badly Leeds have performed in this fixture down the years, regardless of who has been at the helm.

    Leeds have won only one of their past 17 Premier League games against the team from across the Pennines, with that a 1-0 victory in September 2002.

    That winless run goes back even further when only accounting for top-flight matches played at Old Trafford, where they were last victorious in February 1981. 

    Returning to the elite after 16 years away has done little to change the one-sided nature of this fixture, with Leeds losing three of their four meetings over the past two campaigns and drawing the other.

    The 15 goals they have conceded against United in 6-2 5-1 and 4-2 defeats are second only to the 16 shipped against Manchester City over that same period.

    Furthermore, since the start of last season, Leeds have taken just one point from their eight games against sides starting the day in the top three.

    Marsch or not, this was always going to be a match in which the odds were stacked massively against Leeds, particularly with their opponents on a 13-game winning streak at Old Trafford in all competitions.

    That is the Red Devils' best run since a record 20 wins in a row between December 2010 and September 2011.

    Plenty to play for

    Ending that barren run will go a long way to boosting Leeds' survival hopes, although ultimately whoever comes in will have 16 matches after this week's unique double-header to steer the Whites to safety.

    Without a win in seven Premier League games, with that the longest ongoing run of any side, it hardly came as a big surprise to see Marsch given his marching orders on the back of 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest.

    The American departs with a Premier League win percentage of 25 across his 32 matches, which is the second-lowest of any Leeds boss in the division after Eddie Gray (24 per cent).

    Another new era now beckons at Elland Road, and whoever it is that replaces Marsch will have their work cut out in the short term keeping Leeds above the dotted line.

    Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen. But if we have learned anything about Leeds throughout the Premier League era, it is that it will certainly make for entertaining viewing either way.

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    A maiden Test double hundred from Tagenarine Chanderpaul and a 12th Test century from captain Kraigg Brathwaite have put the West Indies in an excellent position after day three of the first Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo.

    The day began with Chanderpaul and Brathwaite resuming from their overnight score of 221-0 with Brathwaite on 116 and Chanderpaul on 101.

    The pair took their opening partnership to 336 before Brathwaite was trapped leg before wicket to Wellington Masakadza for 182. His knock lasted 312 balls and included eight fours.

    With the Windies 336-1, Kyle Mayers was promoted to number three to provide quick runs and did that, contributing 20 off just 24 balls before he became the first of Brandon Mavuta’s five wickets.

    The 25-year-old leg spinner then claimed the wickets of Raymon Reifer (2), Jermaine Blackwood (5), Roston Chase (7) and Jason Holder (11) to complete his maiden Test five-wicket haul.

    During all that, Chanderpaul brought up his maiden Test double ton off 416 balls, finishing up not out on 207 off 467 balls as the West Indies declared on 447-6 after 143 overs.

    Mavuta ended with figures of 5-140 off 41 overs.

    The Zimbabwean reply started well as openers Innocent Kaia and Tanunurwa Makoni saw off the West Indian new ball pair of Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph in the process of bringing up their 50-run partnership in the 21st over.

    Makoni’s resistance ended in the 27th over when he flashed at a wide one from Joseph, being easily caught by Kyle Mayers at slip with the partnership at 63.

    Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie then got in on the action in the 32nd over when he produced a feint edge off Chamu Chibhabha which West Indies wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva safely held. Chibhabha made nine.

    Kaia then brought up his maiden Test fifty off 98 balls.

    With the Zimbabweans seemingly heading towards stumps with eight wickets in the shed, West Indies skipper Kraigg Brathwaite decided to try his hand at bowling the last over of the day.

    The decision proved to be a genius one as Brathwaite removed opposite number Craig Ervine for 13 to leave the hosts 114-3 off 41.4 overs at stumps, trailing the Windies by 333 runs.

    Scores: West Indies 447-6 declared off 143 overs (Tagenarine Chanderpaul 207*, Kraigg Brathwaite 182, Brandon Mavuta 5-140) Zimbabwe 114-3 off 41.4 overs (Innocent Kaia 59*, Tanunurwa Makoni 33, Kraigg Brathwaite 1-5, Gudakesh Motie 1-25, Alzarri Joseph 1-25)

     

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    The Harpy Eagles, who won five straight titles from 2015-2019, have 20 points after hammering defending champions Barbados Pride, who are last with 4.8 points, by 183 runs in round one at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.

    The Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and the Windward Islands Volcanoes are second and third with 10.2 and 8.4 points, respectively, after playing to a draw at the St. George’s Cricket Ground in Grenada.

    Fourth is occupied by the Leeward Islands Hurricanes with 7.4 points after narrowly missing out on an outright win over the Jamaica Scorpions at Coolidge. Their round one opponents are fifth with 6.2 points.

    Round two gets underway on February 8 with Jamaica facing Barbados at Coolidge, the Leeward Islands facing Trinidad & Tobago at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and the Grenada National Stadium hosting Guyana and the Windward Islands.

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