Australia complete remarkable comeback
Australia sealed a dramatic comeback with a three-wicket win in fading light on the final day of the opening Test against West Indies in Bridgetown.
Chasing a teasing victory target of 192 over the final two sessions, the tourists snuck home following a slightly nervy pursuit that was led by Shane Watson’s 52.
Australia bowled out West Indies for 148 on the stroke of lunch today, with Ben Hilfenhaus grabbing 4-27, before they initially laboured in pursuit.
Watson and Ed Cowan, who made 34, laid the platform for the chase but, after part-time spinner Narsingh Deonarine claimed four quick wickets, Australia needed Mike Hussey to blast 32 from 26 balls to get them home in the gloom.
It completed a remarkable turnaround after Australia were totally outplayed on the opening three days, before the match changed following skipper Michael Clarke’s bold declaration yesterday.
West Indies were in complete control by posting a first-innings total of 449 and reducing Australia to 285 for eight early on what turned into a chaotic fourth day.
But man of the match Ryan Harris’ maiden Test half-century sparked the recovery as the last two wickets put on 122 to allow Clarke to declare 43 runs short and insert West Indies with the momentum going against them.
It proved a masterstroke as Hilfenhaus turned the game further with three wickets in six balls before Harris, with 3-31, tidied up the tail this morning.
That left his batsmen with a modest total to secure victory, but a painfully slow West Indies over-rate, and some unhurried Australia batting, in the afternoon session threatened to deny Clarke's men a fifth successive Test win.
After David Warner edged Darren Sammy behind to leave Australia 61 for one at tea, with Cowan inching to 11 from 61 balls, the stage was set for late fireworks.
Watson initially provided the hitting after tea as he brought up his half-century, from 54 balls, but when he became Deonarine’s first victim, pulling a long-hop to backward square-leg, Australia started to show signs of nerves.
Deonarine then had Cowan caught at midwicket, after he had faced 100 balls, before bowling Ricky Ponting and claiming a return catch from Clarke in the space of 14 runs to give the hosts a scent of victory at 140 for five.
But Hussey set to work, his pace hastened by the setting sun, clattering two sixes in his knock only to fall three runs short of the target when bowled by Kemar Roach.
It mattered not though as Hilfenhaus scrambled the winning run soon after to give Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
West Indies began this morning trying to dig themselves out of the hole they made for themselves yesterday, but suffered an almost immediate setback when Harris trapped Deonarine plumb in front for 21.
Skipper Sammy, who had been dropped by Nathan Lyon in the deep, then departed in unfortunate circumstances.
The all-rounder defended against Watson with loose hands and, as the ball squirmed back towards his stumps, he instinctively tried to stop it with his foot only to kick it on to his wicket.
Carlton Baugh chipped to mid-on and Fidel Edwards recklessly skied Peter Siddle to Watson at mid-off before a last-wicket stand of 23 between Roach, who eventually played-on to Harris, and Devendra Bishoo edged the hosts’ to a lead of 191 which proved insufficient.