Australia secured a 1-0 series lead against the West Indies in Barbados, thanks to an outstanding batting display from their lower order batsmen.
With the IPL season ongoing, the West Indies lost some of their top players to the star-studded tournament, and had to call up some their younger upcoming talents in order for them to gain some experience.
West Indies captain, Darren Sammy, won the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch which looked to be in favour of the batsmen, although, according to the pitch report, there was supposed to be some good bounce and seam movement for the opening bowlers.
Batting first, the West Indies took full advantage of the beautiful surface, as opener Kraigg Brathwaite, gave the hosts the upper hand early into the match with a slow but steady half century.
He was well supported by middle order batsman, Kirk Edwards, who made 61 runs, which included ten stunning boundaries and one big six.
Braithwaite and Edwards, put together a 104 run partnership, which was the highest in the entire match.
Darren Bravo, who has been called the next Brian Lara by many analysts in the cricketing world, due to the similar shots and execution style, further bolstered the West Indian innings with a half century of his own, in which he cracked seven boundaries and a six as well.
Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, posted a 73 run partnership, which was extremely helpful to the West Indies cause of making sure to post a large first innings score.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, however, stole the limelight in the West Indian first innings with his scintillating century, as he looked in red hot form when smashing the Australian bowling attack all over the ground, much to the delight of the Barbados crowd.
Chanderpaul’s century was the 25th of his Test career, and included nine boundaries, along with one six.
Chanderpaul was also part of another half century partnership with captain Darren Sammy, who dominated most of it, making an entertaining 41 runs from 36 balls, as he smacked four boundaries and thumped three huge sixes into the stands.
Chanderpaul was still left undefeated when the West Indies declared on 449 runs.
Ryan Harris and David Warner, took two wickets each, with Warner’s two being the first of his international Test career, while Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson picked up a wicket each.
Australian openers Ed Cowan and David Warner, got the innings off to a good start with a fifty run partnership, but, besides that, all of the top order batsmen failed to make a significant score.
It was Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey who steadied the Australian innings after it looked like collapsing at 133 for four wickets.
Clarke and Hussey made an 82 run partnership, before Clarke was dismissed after scoring an excellent 73 runs, in which he hit four boundaries and one six.
Hussey, was unlucky to miss out on his half century, as he was dismissed on 48, during which he played six beautiful shots that went to the fence.
Australia’s Ryan Harris made a brilliant 68 runs, and along with Ben Hilfenhaus’ 24 and Nathan Lyon’s 40, the visitors declared on 406 for nine.
Harris and Lyon, shocked the West Indies and left captain Darren Sammy fuming, with a last wicket partnership of 77 not out.
Kemar Roach took three wickets, while Fidel Edwards and Darren Sammy picked up two each, and Devendra Bishoo, chipped in with the vital wicket of Michael Clarke.
The West Indies second innings was a complete disaster, as they were bundled out for just 148 runs.
The only spark of life in their innings, came from a fifty run partnership between Darren Bravo and Narsingh Deonarine.
The collapse came as an absolute shock to the fans, after the impressive first innings batting display the team had put together.
Darren Bravo led all batsmen with 32 runs, as the West Indies only hit ten boundaries during their entire second innings.
Australia’s pace bowlers did all the damage, as Ben Hilfenhaus claimed four West Indian scalps, while Ryan Harris, took out three batsmen, and Peter Siddle picked two wickets, leaving Shane Watson, who chipped in with the important wicket of the West Indian captain, Darren Sammy.
Set a target of 192 to win, Australia lost opener David Warner early in their chase for 22 runs.
However, Shane Watson and other opener, Ed Cowan, worked well together to post up a 75 run partnership, during which, Shane Watson registered his half century.
Watson’s 52 runs off 57 balls, included four boundaries and a massive six as well.
With the light starting to fade, Michael Hussey, blitzed his way to 32 from 26 balls, hitting two fours and two sixes, before he was sent back to the pavilion after being dismissed.
However, Australia’s lower order batsmen made sure that the match did not end as a draw, and powered their way to victory.
Narsingh Deonarine was all over the Australian batsmen with his four wickets, and he was well supported by Kemar Roach, who took two wickets, and Darren Sammy, who picked up one.
West Indies captain, Darren Sammy, felt that the West Indies failed to capitalise on their excellent start, and said: “We had our opportunities, we just didn’t capitalise. It’s one we thought we had. We dominated for three days but one bad hour put us behind the eight ball.”
Australian captain, Michael Clarke, was extremely pleased to get off to a winning start in Caribbean, and said: “I think you have to be positive. All credit has to go to our bowlers, not just with the ball but the way they batted in the first innings. We’ve got more than one all-rounder in our team.”
Ryan Harris, was awarded the Man of the Match award for his dazzling batting display and also for the five wickets he took in the match.
With Australia winning the first Test by three wickets and taking a 1-0 lead in the series, the West Indies will be looking to redeem themselves when the two nations clash again in Trinidad and Tobago on April 15.