Labuschagne, Head centuries help Australia take charge in 2nd West Indies Test

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Run machine Marnus Labuschagne belted a third successive Test century and Travis Head also made a ton on Thursday as Australia seized control on day one of the pink-ball second Test against the West Indies.

Consistent number three Labuschagne smacked 204 then 104 not out at the first Test in Perth to overtake England’s Joe Root this week as the world’s top-ranked Test batsman.

And he carried that form to Adelaide with a pa-tient unbeaten 120 to again torment the injury-hit Caribbean team, as the hosts amassed 330-3 by stumps.

Head was not out 114, relieved at converting to three figures after he was out for 99 in the first Test.

“It’s nice to be in good form,” said Head. “It’s been a long week and it is right up there as probably one of the better ones (knocks) and feels nice.”

“A chanceless hundred from Marnus,” he added. “He played beautifully and we have got to do it again in the morning.”

The visitors, who are missing three first-choice bowlers, enjoyed some success on a flat track that offered little for the fast bowlers, removing David Warner (21), Usman Khawaja (62), and captain Steve Smith for a duck.

Khawaja surpassed 1,000 Test runs for the year in his knock, becoming only the third man in 2022 to hit the landmark after Root and fellow Englishman Jonny Bairstow, who have both played more matches.

He departed lbw to debutant Devon Thomas, who earned his first Test wicket.

Like Labuschagne, Smith smacked 200 in Perth but he only lasted eight balls in Adelaide, caught and bowled by Jason Holder, while Warner nicked Al-zarri Joseph to wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva.

Australia have won every day-night Test they have played, including six-from-six in Adelaide, and are looking to wrap up the two-match series after winning the opener by 164 runs.

“It’s been a tough week trying to make sure we had a balance with the squad, especially with the amount of injuries we have,” said West Indies coach Phil Simmons.

“Like the last game, the first two sessions we were on target but in the last session we let the runs flow, so that’s disappointing.”

– Depleted by injuries – Both sides were without key players. Australian pace spearheads Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were ruled out, with Scott Boland and Michael Neser replacing them.

Three West Indian mainstays were also out in-jured, with allrounder Kyle Mayers joining fast bowlers Kemar Roach and Jayden Seales on the sidelines.

Anderson Phillip, Marquino Mindley and Tho-mas started instead, with the latter two on debut.

But in another setback, Mindley, who only ar-rived in Adelaide on Tuesday after a dash from Jamaica, lasted just two overs before limping off with a hamstring problem.

Their situation was so dire that Omar Phillips, who was playing club cricket in Australia, was rushed to Adelaide to serve as an emergency fielder.

On a fine but cool day, Smith won the toss and batted, looking to build a big score. Warner initially bided his time, but then unleashed in the ninth over with three sumptuous fours off Joseph.

But the left-hander’s desire for quick runs cost him. He was caught behind by Da Silva after slash-ing at another wide Joseph delivery and getting a nick.

Khawaja was just getting in his stride when Thomas pounced, with the Australian late to react as the ball rocketed into his pads.

Smith was undone by good reflexes from the lanky Holder, who got down low to collect a catch off his own bowling.

As they departed, Labuschagne remained defiant to bring up a 10th Test century, crunching a four through the covers off Thomas as the bowlers ran out of ideas.

Head, on his home ground, was equally com-posed in making a fifth century, also converting with a boundary off Joseph.—APP