West Indies v Australia, 1st Test, Bridgetown, 5th day April 11, 2012

Australia win thriller in fading light


Australia 406 for 9 dec and 192 for 7 (Watson 52, Deonarine 4-53) beat West Indies 449 for 9 dec and 148 (Hilfenhaus 4-27, Harris 3-31) by 3 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Five years after Australia won the World Cup in a farcical finish in the dark at Kensington Oval, they again celebrated a victory there in fading light as the first Test went to the wire on the fifth afternoon. Set 192 to win in two sessions, the Australians started their chase slowly and were almost derailed by middle-order wickets, but Michael Hussey's calm and rational approach ensured they narrowly outpaced the setting sun to win by three wickets.

In a tense conclusion, Hussey was bowled by Kemar Roach for 32 from 26 balls with three runs still required, but Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus saw the Australians home and denied West Indies a satisfactory outcome despite them dominating the first three days. Hilfenhaus struck the winning run with a single scrambled to the off side and a direct-hit at the bowler's end was sent to the third umpire, who found Hilfenhaus in his ground by a few inches.

All the while, the players were keeping an eye on the umpires, who were keeping an eye on the light and under the new ICC rules have complete authority to determine whether play continues or ceases. By the last few balls the shadows had completely enveloped the ground but there was just enough time for the Australians, who celebrated a victory that was set up by Michael Clarke's gutsy declaration behind on the fourth day.

It was a decision that indicated Australia would attack in the final few sessions and by dismissing West Indies for 148 before lunch on the last day, they gave themselves hope. West Indies were not out of the contest either, and four wickets to Narsingh Deonarine gave them more that a slim chance, as the Australians still needed 52 runs with five wickets in hand when Clarke became the fourth of Deonarine's victims.

But Hussey used the finishing skills that have made him such a valuable ODI player, reverse-sweeping to find gaps and twice clearing the long-on boundary off Deonarine to bring the target within reach. The loss of Matthew Wade, who cut Roach high and was caught at deep point for 18, was a blow, and the departure of Hussey in Roach's next over kept the game alive, but it wasn't enough for West Indies.

They were left to rue a couple of important dropped catches, particularly the captain Darren Sammy's failure to hang on to a chance when Shane Watson had 4. Watson cut Roach viciously to gully and the ball fizzed through Sammy's hands, and while it was a fearsome stroke it was certainly a catch that should have been taken. Ed Cowan was also reprieved when he edged Sammy and the keeper Carlton Baugh, standing up to the stumps, couldn't glove the ball.

Cowan and Watson compiled a 75-run stand after David Warner was caught behind off Sammy for 23, but their partnership was notable for the snail's pace at which it was built in the early stages. Cowan went to tea on 11 from 61 balls and Australia needed another 131 in the final session, and their lack of urgency seemed at odds with Clarke's aggressive declaration.

The tempo lifted after tea and the dropping of Watson proved costly as he started to find the boundary and on one occasion cleared it. He was caught at deep backward square leg for 52 when he top-edged an attempted pull off Deonarine and Cowan followed soon after for an agonising 34 from 100 balls when he pulled Deonarine straight to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at midwicket.

Ricky Ponting was bowled by a ball that stayed low and Clarke chipped a catch back to Deonarine, before Hussey and Wade steadied the chase. Australia had been favourites when they bowled West Indies out in an extended opening session in which the hosts added 77 to their overnight total for the loss of their last five wickets.

The last specialist batsman, Deonarine, added only one run to his score and was the first to depart, lbw to Harris for 21. It was precisely the start the Australians needed if they were to give themselves time to chase down a target, and they had another perfect chance soon afterwards when Sammy skied a chance to long-on.

Nathan Lyon put down a sitter to give Sammy a life on 12, and nobody was happier than Lyon when Sammy played on to Watson for 14, accidentally kicking the ball on to his stumps as he tried to prevent it rolling back. Baugh chipped a catch to mid-on from the bowling of Hilfenhaus (4 for 27) for 23 and West Indies were in trouble at 116 for 8.

Fidel Edwards defended solidly for a while before he played a surprisingly rash stroke and skied a catch to mid-off for 3 from 17 balls to give Peter Siddle his second wicket, and that brought the No.11 Devendra Bishoo to the crease. Bishoo defended calmly and together with Roach set about eating up time and adding some important runs to the total.

Their 23-run stand pushed the session beyond the scheduled lunch time but eventually ended when Roach was bowled by Harris for 25. That left the Australians with 192 to chase in two sessions and they were good enough to do so - just. West Indies were left to wonder what could have been.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Congratulations to team Aus for their comfortable win in the end and best wishes to WI in next match . I hope we (pak) are the ones who has always under performed in windies and its strange we have nt win test series here though we have nt lost it for the last 10 years . But i don understand why WI and Pak always have 2 tests to play for the last couple of series . If we play 3 or 4 tests i am pretty sure we ll turn the tables around . Hope in next series we ll win despite 2 test series yet again if ajmal and company were fit and in form .I was extremely disappointed by bishoo in first test and i think the other spinner who perfrmd well in 1 days shud b given a chance.

  • Andrew on April 13, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    @zenboomerang - glad you are still reading my posts - that inspires me. Point remains, I can read enough to see that you said 5 sessions to go, it was a shade over 4, & my remains I'm not surprised with your comment "...Can't agree..." It follows a long running theme!

  • Hildreth on April 13, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    GREAT TEST MATCH. Congratulations are in order to Australia for this come from behind win, especially capt Clarke who led his team brilliantly. It was a very disappointing finish for WINDIES FANS after seeing their team bat so responsibly in the 1st inn to amass a total of 449/9 followed by a BRAVE decl by Capt Sammy. Also a dogged hundred by Shiv and 3 half-centuries by our young batsmen followed by a blistering 41 by Sammy WILTED the Australians on the field and forced them to bowl over 150 overs. However after decl late on the 2nd day the Windies fast bowlers did not CAPITALIZE BY REMOVING 1 or 2 TIRED Aussie batsmen and BOWLED POORLY for almost an hour. EDWARDS in particular looked out of sorts in this match in bowling and batting. WINDIES LOST THIS MATCH MAINLY BECAUSE OF THEIR 2ND INNS COLLAPSE but failure to break the last pair of Aussie batsmen was the TURNING POINT. COACH Gibson and Capt SAMMY must develop STRATEGIES to DISMISS TAILENDERS like bowling more BOUNCERS to them.

  • Dummy4 on April 13, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    @tests_the_best, mate we still had Kohli , Dhoni with perhaps Harbhajan to come its not like we had just Dravid batting out there and also the point of view of the pitch being not conductive to stroke play, on 5th day what more can we expect? its interesting you bought up the mumbai test, it was a thriller alright, but we did NOT win is the baseline!

  • Dummy4 on April 13, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    @tests_the_best, mate we still had Kohli , Dhoni with perhaps Harbhajan to come its not like we had just Dravid batting out there and also the point of view of the pitch being not conductive to stroke play, on 5th day what more can we expect? its interesting you bought up the mumbai test, it was a thriller alright, but we did NOT win is the baseline!

  • Cricinfo on April 13, 2012, 14:16 GMT

    maybe clarke shouldn't have declared? it seems to me only time declaring from behind makes sense is when you want to exploit the bowling conditions available (say start of day's play or last 30 min of day's play). imagine if the last pair had added another quick 30-40 runs, it would have made the 4th innings chase so much less tighter.

  • Roo on April 13, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @Meety :- "no surprises you don't agree with copmpliments to Clarke"... I'm glad you still haven't learned to read my comments properly :) ... I said "over-the-top comments about Clarkes "great" declaration" - nor did I bag him... I mentioned that many Oz captains are prepared to risk a loss to a draw more often than most... Nothing "great" in what Clarke has done - just good Oz captaining skills... Hilfy & MoM Rhino are the ones that need the praise - they won the match from a near certain draw...

  • Dummy4 on April 13, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Cannot see beyond this being a match thrown away by WI due to terrible captaincy in the last hour or so. Bishoo was being taken to the cleaners and was left on far too long - and letting Deonarine bowl in the last 30 minutes was suicidal. Too many runs and way too many overs - wickets by that time were irrelevant. If they'd brought on another quick instead, then time would have simply run out on Australia. No Oz captain would have allowed the game to slip away like Sammy did. Winning's great - but not to achievce a draw in those circumstance through plain lack of tactical nous is just bad captaincy.

  • Nikhil on April 13, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Im stunned that WI declared at 449-9, when you know, your 2nd innings is always suspect. Another 30 runs by the last wicket wud've made the diff. Im sure, even the captain wasnt sure, if they were playing for a draw or a win.. haha

  • Roo on April 13, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    @Behind_the_bowlers_arm... Agree, Oz has had a poor batting unit for the last 5 years... Too much experimental selection policy... Watson should be @no.6/7... Will wait until this series ends before making too much out of where Warner, Cowan are at - as I will about Ponting... Not overly happy with 2 lefties opening & would prefer a L/R combination to break up the opening bowlers line... Also wouldn't mind seeing Starc getting a bowl if any of the pitches look pace friendly with 4 seamers playing - his left arm bowling would add good variety...

  • No featured comments at the moment.