Kraigg Brathwaite scored an unbeaten 101 Saturday to lead West Indies resistance as they chase 498 to win the first Test against Australia.
The home side declared at lunch on day four in Perth after reaching 182-2 to go with their first innings 598-4, having bowled out the Caribbean nation for 283.
The in-form Labuschagne belted an unbeaten 104 to go with his first innings 204 — only the eighth player to achieve the 200-100 feat in the same Test, joining the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Brian Lara and Kumar Sangakkara.
In reply, the West Indies battled to 192-3 at stumps, still 306 runs behind, with Kyle Mayers yet to score alongside Brathwaite.
Tagenarine Chanderpaul (45), Shamarh Brooks (11) and Jermaine Blackwood (24) were the wickets to fall.
In a blow for Australia, skipper and pace spearhead Pat Cummins did not bowl after experiencing thigh soreness.
Openers Brathwaite and Chanderpaul were cautious with 154 overs to get through for an unlikely draw, frustrating Australia.
The experienced Brathwaite brought up his 5,000th Test run with a boundary off Cameron Green before completing a second successive 50 after his first innings 64.
Chanderpaul was dropped on 42 with the ball slipping out of Mitchell Starc’s fingers at full stretch in the deep after he hooked Green.
But the speedster quickly made amends when he bowled the son of West Indies great Shivnarine Chanderpaul to snap a dangerous 116-run stand.
Nathan Lyon’s spin accounted for Brooks, a concussion substitute for Nkrumah Bonner, with Steve Smith taking the catch at slip after an edge, and then Blackwood for 24 with Labuschagne the safe pair of hands.
But Brathwaite was unmovable and brought up his 11th Test century off 157 balls to keep his team’s hopes alive.
“We got to believe. It was good to get through this today,” Brathwaite told reporters. “We had to fight. From the beginning, we knew it was going to be tough playing Test cricket here in Australia. Australia are going to come hard tomorrow, so it’s obviously important we start extremely well.”
On the day, Brathwaite carved out an unforgettable innings in an unforgiving destination with the tourists having not won a Test in Australia since January 1997.
“For me, it means everything,” Brathwaite said about scoring a century in Australia after narrowly missing out twice during their last tour in 2015-16. “And obviously growing as a youngster watching West Indies bat (in Australia)… Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Brian Lara… you know Australia is going to be a tough place to bat.
“This obviously is up there (among his best innings) and really meant a lot for me, to be honest. As a leader, I just want to lead from the front.”
“[It] was a brain fade, because the ball wasn’t dead, so I don’t know where I was going. [I] was excited but thankfully it didn’t cost my wicket”
Brathwaite’s confidence has perhaps increased with the much-hyped Optus Stadium surface playing few tricks, though some deliveries crept low, while Lyon looms as a decisive factor on the final day.
“It’s still a good pitch… from one end a few balls crept low. It’s always important to keep a straight bat,” Brathwaite said. “Tomorrow… possibly some cracks will open up a little bit more.”
If they do avoid defeat, it could represent an era-defining performance for West Indies, who have shown improvement in the Test format this year. But Brathwaite, understood the massive challenge tomorrow.
“It won’t be easy tomorrow,” he said. “We have got to show fight and it starts from ball one and if we can do that then I believe we can have a good day.”
Brief scores: West Indies192/3 (Kraigg Brathwaite 101*; Nathan Lyon 2/54) need another 306 runs vs Australia598/4d & 182/2d (Marnus Labuschagne 104*; Kemar Roach 1/30)