A beleaguered West Indies can muster an improved performance in the second Test against Australia if their misfiring middle-order takes heed of the gutsy approach from captain Kraigg Brathwaite and debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul, according to allrounder Roston Chase.
In their first Test match in Australia since January 2016, West Indies suffered a 164-run defeat in the series-opener at Perth's Optus Stadium.
Continuing their 25-year Test drought in Australia, West Indies were mostly outplayed but in a silver lining managed to bat around 100 overs in each innings to reach their pre-match target. \But both innings fell away after strong platforms laid by openers Brathwaite and Chanderpaul, who produced partnerships of 78 and 116 to thwart the new ball.
Four of the five highest individual scores for West Indies in the match were made by Brathwaite and Chanderpaul, whose mix of doggedness and counterattack defied Australia's star-studded attack for long periods.
"The opening partnership was a great sight to see," Chase said. "Think the other batters will take a leaf out of the openers...then we will be a force to be reckoned with. The middle-order showed glimpses of what they could do but we didn't cash in on that good start and that let us down for the rest of the game."
The debut performance of Chanderpaul, who made 45 and 51, was particularly pleasing for West Indies as he showcased similar technical and mental characteristics to Shivnarine, his father and legendary batter.
"Australia is a tough place to play cricket and to start the way he did shows a lot of character," Chase said. "His dad had the same characteristics of sticking in and fighting.
"That's where he got it from. If he can emulate what his dad did obviously he would be a legend in the game. Hopefully he can continue in this vein and take confidence from this first game."
West Indies, however, rued a particularly ragged and sloppy bowling performance as they claimed just six wickets in 189.4 overs.
"The guys tried hard...thought we were unlucky. I think Marnus has a genie in his pocket," Chase joked, noting Labuschagne's good fortune during his 308 runs scored during the match. "It was a good toss to win because it was a good batting wicket."
Chase's offspinners were ineffective and he particularly struggled with 0 for 140 off 31 overs in Australia's massive first innings of 598 for 4 declared. He released the pressure after coming into the attack before lunch on the first session of the match.
After admitting he struggled with his action, Chase later in the match closely observed counterpart Nathan Lyon, who starred with eight wickets in the Test as he conjured bounce and occasional sharp spin from the green-tinged surface.
"Once I saw what he [Lyon] did in [West Indies] first innings, I tried to emulate that and bowl quicker...put a little more revs on the ball," Chase said. "As the wicket deteriorated he [Lyon] tried to use the rough to put doubt on the batters' mind."
West Indies face several injury headaches heading into the day-night second Test in Adelaide starting Thursday. Their biggest concern is spearhead Kemar Roach, who was forced off on day four after injuring his left thigh.
"Bit of tightness," Chase said of Roach's injury. "Hopefully he'll be there in the second game."
Adding to their woes, top-order batter Nkrumah Bonner was on day three substituted out of the match with concussion after being hit in the back of the helmet from a Cameron Green short delivery.
He will travel to Adelaide along with uncapped quick Marquino Mindley, who has been brought into the squad as injury cover.
West Indies will be hoping for a sharper effort from fast bowler Alzarri Joseph, who went wicketless in his debut Test in Australia but showed encouraging signs later in the match during a fiery spell against Labuschagne after being in distress on the opening day.
"He wasn't feeling well. He had a headache but still was trying to push through," Chase said. "I admire that about him. It was exciting to see him bowl in the second innings."