Dinner West Indies 311 and 106 for 3 (Athanaze 28*, Hodge 8, Lyon 1-8) lead Australia 289 for 9 dec by 128 runs
After a madcap day two, the match returned to normalcy as the surface settled and West Indies eyed batting for the long haul in very hot and humid weather.
West Indies, however, have dug in and played mostly with discipline to build a platform for a strong lead as they eye ending a two-decade Test drought against Australia.
It was Smith’s second dropped catch of the innings after he shelled Brathwaite late on day two.
There is the threat of rain tonight and heavy showers are forecast on days four and five due to the aftereffects of Tropical Cyclone Kirrily.
Resuming at 13 for 1 in their second innings, West Indies needed to survive the new ball onslaught and get to the 25-over mark relatively unscathed when batting has proven easier.
But the surface did not offer as much zip compared to late on day two when Australia declared 22 runs behind and quick Josh Hazlewood picked up opener Tagenarine Chanderpaul in what capped a frenetic day’s play.
McKenzie motored along with a gorgeous drive through the covers off quick Mitchell Starc’s first over in a sign of things to come. He repeated the dose to knock Hazlewood off his miserly line as he scored at a run-a-ball pace.
The left-handed McKenzie’s straight driving was even more pleasing on the eye as he single-handedly kept the scoreboard ticking. In a contrast, Brathwaite was anchored to the crease and scored just six runs off his first 33 balls before whacking Starc uppishly through covers for his first boundary of the innings.
With Hazlewood and Starc thwarted, skipper Pat Cummins entered the attack in the 15th over and hoped to produce a trademark game-changing wicket. But McKenzie immediately drove him with ease down the ground for another brilliant boundary forcing Cummins to revert to a hard length as a riveting battle ensued.
The batters defied Cummins and notched a half-century stand as West Indies moved into a position of strength. They almost got through to drinks unscathed before Brathwaite tamely chipped Green to cover.
McKenzie slowed down and on his 50th delivery he missed an attempted sweep shot to be trapped lbw on Lyon’s second delivery. In the nick of time, McKenzie decided to review having been hit high on his back leg but ball tracking showed it to be clipping the off bail and the decision was upheld.
Athanaze has had limited impact in the series, but showed glimpses of why he is highly-rated with several attractive strokes and he’ll look to cash in on his luck after the break.