BRIDGETOWN: Australia drew first blood here on Wednesday beating the West Indies by three wickets in a thrilling finish to the first Test.
Ben Hilfenhaus hit the final run of the 192 run target with the light fading fast to give the tourists victory after the hosts had fought back to keep the game in the balance.
A half-century from Shane Watson and a rapid 32 from Mike Hussey were the key contributions as the visitors got home in the gloom.
Fittingly, Man of the Match, Ryan Harris was with Hilfenhaus at the crease at the end.
“I actually said to Mike Hussey before tea that I’d love to be out there at the end of a Test match and hit the winning runs.
“I didn’t do that but I was out there. It was a good feeling.
“That was one of the hardest Test matches I’ve played in my short career. To win a game like that after they batted for two days it’s pretty amazing.”
It was clear that the defeat had hurt the West Indian skipper Darren Sammy.
“We dominated a top side with some good players and the way I heard them celebrating on the balcony means a lot to me,” he said.
“We’ll take that to heart and look to come back strong inTrinidad.”
During the morning theWest Indieshad added 77 more runs to their overnight total of 71-5 to set a relatively tough target of 192.
The hosts hadn’t looked like getting anywhere near that when they started the day on 71-5 and promptly lost Narsingh Deonarine lbw to Ryan Harris.
Sammy went for 14 as he played a delivery late and it dropped behind him and was heading towards the wicket – he tried to kick the ball away but he only managed to knock the ball against the stumps.
Carlton Baugh was key to theWest Indiesreaching a competitive total. On 18, he edged a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery straight to first slip. Michael Clarke, who had just taken himself out of that position, crouched down in disbelief.
It wasn’t too costly as with the first ball of his next over Hilfenhaus provoked Baugh into chipping straight to Harris at mid-on.
Fidel Edwards was next to go as he holed out to Watson at mid-off off Siddle.
West Indies last pair batted long enough for lunch to be delayed but, having added 19 runs, Kemar Roach got an inside edge off a Harris ball and it crashed into his stumps.
When they came out, theWest Indiesset defensive fields as though a draw was their only hope and succeeded in restricting Ed Cowan and David Warner.
Warner, perhaps in frustration, tried to run a Darren Sammy ball to third man but instead he got a thin edge through to Baugh.
Watson eventually settled after some narrow escapes and following the tea break both he and Cowan accelerated the scoring.
Sixty-five runs came in the next 14 overs until Watson found the man on the boundary when he top-edged a sweep off Deonarine.
It was the first wicket in what proved to be Deonarine’s best spell of Test bowling as he used the rough made by the bowlers’ footmarks.
A straight-forward pull shot from Cowan went into the hands of mid-wicket and gave Deonarine his second dismissal and it wasn’t long before he bowled one to Ricky Ponting that stayed low and got under his bat.
In his next over Deonarine had his fourth scalp. Michael Clarke got a leading edge and Deonarine stooped to pick up an easy catch.
Australiastill required 52 runs to reach their target and were now five down.
He thought he had his fifth when Matthew Wade was given out lbw by umpire Ian Gould but the batsman used the DRS which supported his belief that he’d hit the ball.
With the light fading Hussey and Wade moved the score along as quickly as possible but both fell to Roach. Wade was caught in the deep and Hussey fell with three runs still needed, bowled in the poor light.
A couple of scampered singles from Harris and Hilfenhaus saw Australia home.