Khawaja, Burns tons give Australia control of Boxing Day Test vs WI
Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns hammered centuries as Australia again put the West Indies to the sword on the opening day of the second Test match in Melbourne on Saturday.
A fit-again Khawaja hit 144 for his third ton in four Test innings and opener Burns cracked 128 for his second Test hundred of the season as the Australians reached 345 for three at stumps after being sent in to bat. Skipper Steve Smith was unbeaten on 32 with Hobart Test double centurion Adam Voges on 10.
Before the lowest Boxing Day crowd of 53,389 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 16 years, Australia made W Indies skipper Jason Holder pay dearly for sending the home side into bat after winning the toss.
It was another day of triumph for Pakistan-born Khawaja, who returned from missing the last two Tests with a hamstring injury to take up where he left off. Khawaja continued his rousing form this season after scoring 174 and 121 in the first two Tests against the Kiwis last month.
He shared in a stand of 258 runs with Burns in the third-highest partnership for the second wicket at the famous ground. Only two Australian partnerships for the second wicket at the MCG were higher -- Ian Chappell-Bill Lawry’s 298 against the West Indies in 1968 and Don Bradman-Bill Woodfull’s 274 against South Africa in 1931.
Khawaja was given a reprieve on 142 when Marlon Samuels dropped a chest-high sitter in the covers off Jerome Taylor. But Taylor had the last word when he snared Khawaja’s wicket just two runs later when he was caught down leg-side by wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin just under six overs from stumps.
Khawaja’s runs came off 227 balls in 331 minutes with just six fours and a six. Not since October has Khawaja been dismissed for less than 100 in any format of the game.
Burns also made a personal statement with his ton amid concerns over his position in the side with the return of Khawaja.
Selectors ultimately decided to make the tough decision to drop Shaun Marsh to fit in Khawaja’s return despite Marsh hitting his highest Test score of 182 against the W Indies in the first Test match in Hobart.
Burns was finally out when he was smartly stumped by Ramdin off part-time spinner Kraigg Brathwaite for 128.
Burns reached the triple figures first, cracking spinner Jomel Warrican through point for three runs and Khawaja followed two balls later off a misfield at square leg for a single.
It was the second ton of the season for Burns, who scored 129 against New Zealand in Brisbane. He batted for 312 minutes and hit 16 fours and a six.
The hapless Caribbean tourists again struggled to make any impression in the rain-delayed Boxing Day showpiece after losing by an innings and 212 runs in the first Hobart Test.
So far in the series, Australia have amassed 928 runs for the loss of just seven wickets as the home side looked to build another formidable first innings total.
The West Indies removed dangerous opener David Warner cheaply for 23 in the fifth over of the innings.
Warner belted boundaries off Kemar Roach’s first three balls before plundering 15 off his opening over.
But Warner was out three overs later when his attempted pull shot lobbed to Samuels, who took three snatches at the ball before holding the catch in the covers.
Australia are favoured to win the showpiece Boxing Day Test and retain the Frank Worrell trophy against the struggling tourists.
The West Indies last won a Test in Australia almost 18 years ago.