In the end, five days just wasn't enough. Despite the finest efforts of Dwayne Bravo - and his best was brilliant - and a captain's innings from Chris Gayle, West Indies ran out of time to beat Australia for the first time in six years. Draws like this might leave non-fans nonplussed, but they make cricket purists appreciate the huge workload required to win a Test.
West Indies dominated the match but lost the Frank Worrell Trophy. Australia clung on for a draw that earned them the right to keep the silverware, which has resided at Cricket Australia headquarters since Mark Taylor's men won it from Richie Richardson's side in the Caribbean in 1995. But following their three-day humiliation in Brisbane, this match was about more than the result for West Indies.
It was about pride, and about proving that they remain a dangerous Test side. They achieved that much. For Australia, the result will be a relief on one hand - they could easily have crumbled on the final day - yet a concern on the other. It's one thing to lose to India, South Africa or even England, but to go down at home to the eighth-ranked West Indies would have been unthinkable.
Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin ensured that didn't happen, batting patiently to see Australia through to 5 for 212. The target of 330 had long since become irrelevant when the pair came together half an hour after tea. Bravo, the first-innings centurion, was swinging the ball dangerously and had just picked up a pair of wickets that meant survival was the only aim for Australia.
Despite some agonisingly close moments as balls stayed low or shots lobbed into gaps, Haddin and Clarke did their job; Clarke played the role of a team leader with an unbeaten 61 and Haddin ended up on 21. Kemar Roach regularly breached the 150kph barrier, Sulieman Benn challenged with turn and bounce without adding a wicket to his five from the first innings, and Gayle set attacking fields until the very end.
West Indies entered the final session needing seven wickets for victory - an unlikely goal but one that allowed them to dream. Australia became a little nervous when Bravo delivered a brilliant first over after the break, troubling Michael Hussey on a number of occasions and finally enticing an edge behind from a ball angled across the left-hander. Six wickets to get.
Marcus North, arguably the Australia batsman best suited to attrition, survived for 27 deliveries before he too played at a Bravo delivery pushing across him and edged to first slip, where Ramnaresh Sarwan took a great catch low to his left. Five wickets needed.
And that's how it remained. Despite the expectations that Benn would be the man to watch out for on a fifth-day turning pitch, it was the fast men who caused Australia most of the worries. Before lunch, Simon Katich drove Bravo on the up to cover for 21, and shortly after the break Ricky Ponting (20) played on trying to cut a Ravi Rampaul offcutter.
With each wicket Australia's hopes of victory faded, although they retained some chance while Shane Watson remained at the crease, anchoring the innings. He guided them to 2 for 114 and kept looking for runs, which brought about his undoing when on 48 he pulled Darren Sammy to a deepish midwicket where a superb catch was taken by - who else? - Bravo, diving to his left.
Bravo was outstanding but Gayle was the Man of the Match and the game's most influential player. As time ran out and the Adelaide sun sunk lower in the horizon, Gayle was left to ponder whether he made the right decision in not declaring.
Would they have had time to dismiss Australia had they closed their innings overnight? Would that have made any difference at all? West Indies will never know but it was easy to understand Gayle's thinking - he'd have been much more nervous about losing the match if Australia had to chase 297 from 90 overs rather than 330 off 81.
Had Australia reached their target it would have been the highest fourth-innings total ever scored to win an Adelaide Test, and the fifth-highest for any in Australia. After last summer's mind-boggling chase of 414 by South Africa to win in Perth anything seems possible but here, time was Australia's enemy. They had expected West Indies to play more aggressively on the fourth afternoon and perhaps even send them in before stumps.
As it happened, Gayle batted on for 6.5 overs - about half an hour - on the final morning and West Indies shored themselves up with another 33 that pushed their total to 317. He became the first West Indies captain to carry his bat through a Test innings and finished unbeaten on 165, a seven-hour-plus effort that went a long way to restoring his team's pride after their Brisbane thrashing.
Doug Bollinger finished with 3 for 50 and Mitchell Johnson collected 5 for 103 - his fourth five-wicket haul in Tests - as Gayle lost his Nos. 10 and 11, Rampaul and Roach. Having never been in control of the match at the Gabba, West Indies enjoyed every minute in which they were the front-runners in Adelaide.
The Frank Worrell Trophy will remain in Australia but West Indies can still draw the series with victory in the third Test. And here's a thought to keep Caribbean fans interested: the final match is at the WACA in Perth. Australia have lost their past two Tests there.