Matthew Hayden’s second successive World Cup hundred powered Australia to 322 for six against West Indies, in the first Super Eight match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.
Hayden (158) followed up this competition’s fastest century – against South Africa three days ago – with an initially more painstaking but even more masterful innings today.
He needed 18 balls to score his first run yet faced only 143 deliveries in all - hitting 14 fours and four sixes to finish with the highest Cup score by an Australian by the time he holed out at long-off from the bowling of Dwayne Bravo.
The left-handed opener appeared to accurately interpret the conditions on this newly-built ground, gradually upping the ante before launching a brutal late assault.
Australia nonetheless endured plenty of anxious moments, largely through uncharacteristically jittery running between the wickets.
Captain Ricky Ponting was the only player who was run out, but there were at least four other close calls.
After being put in, Australia had to be cautious – with the ball moving around in the air and off the seam under cloudy and occasionally wet skies.
Adam Gilchrist got a delivery he could do little about from Daren Powell, cutting back off the pitch to take the inside edge and carry through for a neat catch behind.
Ponting’s pull off Powell for six in the seventh over was the first time Australia found the boundary.
But Hayden then weighed in with two off-drives for four from successive balls - at the start of Jerome Taylor’s next over.
Ponting could have gone on 16, had Ramnaresh Sarwan’s throw from mid-on been better directed.
Sarwan made no mistake the next time Ponting tried a quick single, knocking down one stump from extra cover – but an assortment of Windies fielders narrowly missed another clutch of run-out attempts.
Michael Clarke could have gone before he had faced a ball – and again on three - while Hayden had 28 when he was sent back and would not have beaten an accurate shy from mid-on by Brian Lara.
The third-wicket pair flourished in an important stand of 98 in 16 overs until Clarke went lbw to a ball which nipped in from Bravo.
Hayden could not find a steady partner thereafter, Andrew Symonds caught behind flashing at Marlon Samuels’ part-time off-spin and Michael Hussey continuing his lean time when he edged a slower ball from Powell on to his stumps.
There was one more moment of fortune for Hayden on 109 when he struck Powell for four over the head of Sarwan, stationed five yards in from the boundary edge at long-off.
But he had plenty of power to add, with Taylor his prime target – struck for two sixes and a four in his final over – as 99 were plundered in the last 10, despite the inconvenience of a 20-minute interruption for rain.