Australia won an exciting first Test against the West Indies by three wickets on Wednesday as Michael Clarke’s team were rewarded for their positive approach.
The West Indies were bowled out for 148 before lunch on the final day, setting the tourists a victory target of 192 in two sessions.
Australia were cautious before tea, but with the light fading fast they stepped up the run-rate in the final session, despite losing six wickets in the process.
Spinner Narsingh Deonarine took 4-53 as West Indies exposed the Australia tail, but with Mike Hussey (32) taking an aggressive approach, Australia were able to cross the finish line before darkness fell.
The victory completed an outstanding turnaround for the tourists, who at one stage in their first innings were 250 for seven chasing 449 for nine declared, before Ryan Harris and the tail produced invaluable resistance.
“It was very hard fought. Australian cricket has very fond memories of this ground in Barbados and I think the last five days will be added to those great memories,” said Clarke, who was part of the team which won the World Cup at the Kensington Oval in 2007.
Clarke’s decision to declare Australia’s first innings on Tuesday at 406 for nine, even though they were 43 runs behind, proved to be a masterstroke, exposing a seemingly tired and unprepared West Indies top order to a tough afternoon session.
“I think you have to give yourself every opportunity to win,” Clarke said. “I think full credit has to go to our bowlers, not only the way they batted in the first innings, but the way they came out and bowled in the second innings as well.”
Man-of-the-match Harris finished with three for 31 to follow up Tuesday’s batting heroics — he got the first breakthrough of the day, trapping Deonarine (21) LBW.
The West Indies, needing to eat up time and add runs, really needed a strong contribution from skipper Darren Sammy, but he made just 14 before he was bowled by Shane Watson.
Australia crawled to 61 for one by tea, but the final session became a tense one as the Caribbean attack made inroads and Australia had to keep their eyes on the light.
Deonarine grabbed the wickets of Watson, who made a smart 52, and then opener Ed Cowan, who had made 34 from 164 balls with just one boundary.
Fittingly, Harris and Hilfenhaus, who had done so much to turn the game around in the first innings, were at the crease at the end to secure the win.
The second Test of the three-match series begins in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on Sunday.