| Daren Ganga swings one to the boundary on Day III of the first Test in Georgetown Saturday. (Reuters)
Georgetown: Australia crushed West Indies by nine wickets in the first Test on Sunday, celebrating their captain Steve Waugh’s world record 157th Test appearance in emphatic style.
Australia reached their target of 147 before tea on the fourth day, opener Justin Langer following his first innings 146 with an unbeaten 78.
Ricky Ponting, who hit the winning single, was unbeaten on 42 as Australia, who will return to the top of the world Test standings if they win the four-match series, knocked off the runs in the 43rd over.
Fast bowler Jason Gillespie set Australia on the way by taking four wickets for four runs at the start of the day to polish off the West Indies second innings. Gillespie finished with five for 38, his seventh five-wicket haul in Test cricket.
The home team, a daunting 252 runs behind from the first innings, resumed at 381 for five but lost their remaining five wickets for a paltry 17 runs in 45 minutes as they were bowled out for 388.
Waugh, back at the helm after being left out of Australia’s victorious World Cup squad, broke Allan Border’s world record appearances when he took to the field on the first day.
West Indies, with first innings century-maker Shivnarine Chanderpaul still at the crease, began the day with hopes of at least being able to force a draw.
But they were quickly in trouble as Gillespie had Vasbert Drakes leg before for 14 in the day’s first over.
Mervyn Dillon, also lbw, followed for a duck in Gillespie’s next over and was replaced by Ridley Jacobs, who bravely limped out to bat despite a torn groin muscle.
He was shown no mercy by Gillespie, who greeted him with a couple of short deliveries that had him painfully ducking backwards.
Both Jacobs and Chanderpaul, who injured his knee scoring a century in the first innings, used runners as they attempted to repeat their sixth-wicket partnership of 131.
But in Gillespie’s fourth over Chanderpaul snicked a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist for 31.
Jacobs gave the crowd brief cheer when he hit leg spinner Stuart MacGill for six but he was out in the same over when he got an inside edge and was caught at short leg by Darren Lehmann for 11.
Jermaine Lawson followed when he was leg before to Gillespie without scoring as West Indies lost their last five wickets for 17 runs.
Australia made a comfortable start, picking off the loose deliveries to reach 47 for no wicket at lunch.
Langer had a huge let-off on 46 when he miscued a Marlon Samuels delivery to Dave Bernard at cover point but the substitute fielder dropped the ball.
The 32-year-old lefthander made the most of his escape by cutting his seventh four through the covers of the next ball to complete his fifty.
The hosts’ only breakthrough came when Matthew Hayden lobbed Jermaine Lawson to square leg and was caught by Bernard for 19.
On Saturday, Lara and Ganga helped the Caribbeans launch a brave fightback. The pair added 185 for the third wicket and helped steer the West Indies, a daunting 252 behind from the first innings, to 381 for five at close on the third day.
Lara, who on taking the field was jeered by some parts of the Guyanese crowd distinctly unhappy at the sacking of the local man Carl Hooper after the World Cup, struck 20 fours in his innings of 110 before hitting his own wicket off the bowling of Brad Hogg with the score on 295.
The left-hander attempted one of his familiar sweep shots but missed, the ball hit his elbow and flew away but he clipped the leg stump with his bat on the follow through.
Lara’s fellow Trinidadian Ganga, whose place in the team has been in danger after some unconvincing recent displays, atoned for the disappointment of Lara’s dismissal by completing his maiden Test century in his first Caribbean series, shortly afterwards.
He survived a leg-before wicket appeal from Hogg on 96 after missing a looping full toss and three balls later drove the same bowler through the on-side for four to complete his century.