| Chairman of selectors Viv Richards watches practice in the company of captain Brian Lara at the Sticky Wicket Ground in St Johnís Thursday. (AP)
St Johnís: Fast bowler Jermaine Lawson captured Australiaís first three wickets as the West Indies, facing an unprecedented home series whitewash, took the initiative in the fourth and final Test on Friday.
Australia were 233 for nine at 2 am. Jermaine Lawson was the wrecker-in-chief, scalping six wickets. Mervyn Dillon took two wickets and Omari Banks one. Steve Waugh (41), Adam Gilchrist (33) and Andy Bichel (34) provided some resistance for the visitors.
Australia recovered to reach 175 for four at tea on the first day after Lawson, who took a split hattrick in the third Test, dismissed openers Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer before lunch and Darren Lehmann shortly after the interval.
Off-spinner Omari Banks then bowled Martin Love, who replaced the flu-stricken Ricky Ponting, for 36 as the home side seized the advantage to reduce the visitors to 124 for four midway through the afternoon session.
But, captain Steve Waugh and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist then combined to take the attack to the West Indian bowlers and carried them through to tea without further loss.
Waugh was 41 not out off 74 balls while Gilchrist was on 28.
Some fielding errors, which have already cost the West Indies in the series, saved Australia from even worse trouble.
Australia, who batted first in the previous two Tests and compiled match-winning scores each time, made a quick start as Langer hit two fours in Mervyn Dillonís second over.
But the West Indies, 0-3 down in the series, made an important breakthrough when Hayden miscued an attempted pull at Lawson and Vasbert Drakes took an easy catch at mid-on to reduce Australia to 27 for one.
The West Indies should have dismissed Langer for 14 three overs later but second slip Chris Gayle dropped an easy chance off Dillon. Langer went on to make 42 before he deflected a Lawson delivery to gully where Banks took a low catch.
Lehmann followed after lunch when he edged Lawson to wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs ó returning to action after missing the last two Tests through injury ó for seven. Waugh suffered some uncomfortable moments against Lawson and also escaped when he got an inside edge to Banks but the ball raced to the boundary for four.
Love escaped twice in successive Banks overs, being dropped by Chanderpaul both times, but was out two balls after the second when he deflected the ball on to the stumps.
Love was called in at the last minute after Ponting, who made a century in each of the first three Tests, was ruled out with a viral infection.