Melbourne: West Indies show spirit with bat and ball but Australia remain in control of Boxing Day Test on third day at MCG on Monday.
On a tour that thus far has delivered them little other than embarrassment and criticism, the West Indies might be tempted to take some pride from seeing Australia captain Steve Smith opt out of enforcing the follow-on.
While a first innings deficit of 280 would be viewed as abject by most professional cricket teams and their fans, it represented a triumph of sorts for a side that was eyeing a shortfall of 460 with more than half of their first innings wickets lost when day three began under bright Melbourne sun.
But even though the West Indies tail, in concert with obdurate top-order batsman Darren Bravo, wagged doggedly for almost four hours and nearly 200 runs and their bowlers made an unprecedented early incision into Australia's batting, this Test is already beyond their reach.
The 459–run lead that Australia holds at stumps means the West Indies will need to post the highest fourth-innings score in their Test history – even more than the record-setting 418 that Brian Lara's team plundered to win the final match of the already lost 2003 series in the Caribbean.
And that figure is extrapolated from the presumption that Smith – 70 not out at stumps having fashioned a 77-run third-wicket partnership with the irresistible Usman Khawaja (56) – will declare Australia's total at their overnight score.
However, Smith will be hoping his bowlers are able to clean up the opposition batting a little more tidily over the warm, sunny days ahead than they managed in two frustrating sessions today.
When James Pattinson cost himself a five-wicket haul and his team the chance of an easy kill when he twice flagrantly overstepped and provided Test debutant Carlos Brathwaite with a pair of charitable acts the likes of which the towering 27-year-old will not see again.
With Pattinson operating around the wicket, Brathwaite expanded his stroke repertoire to take in an ambitious hook shot that produced a top-edge, a well-judged catch by Peter Siddle at fine leg and incredulity when television replays showed Pattinson's front foot well clear of the bowling crease.
At that point the West Indies, for the first time in the series and for some time before that, looked likely to survive an entire session without losing a wicket when – with lunch buffets being filled and some partially emptied – Brathwaite looped a return catch to Nathan Lyon.
At day's end, the West Indies could leave the field for the first time on tour with the comparative comfort of knowing they had fought a good fight against a far-better credentialled opponent.
But they still find themselves staring squarely at a hefty defeat, whether it arrives tomorrow or on the scheduled day five.
Australia - 3 for 551 dec and 3 for 179 (Smith 70*, Khawaja 56)
West Indies - 271 (Bravo 81, Brathwaite 59, Lyon 4-66, Pattinson 4-72)
Status - Australia lead by 459 runs