Spectacular Lara hundred shores up Windies
by AFP

Ground:Sabina Park, Kingston
Scorecard:West Indies v Pakistan
Player:Danish Kaneria, CD Collymore, RR Sarwan, BC Lara
Event:Pakistan in West Indies 2004/05

DateLine: 4th June 2005


Batting superstar Brian Lara collected his 30th Test hundred to put the West Indies in a healthy position in the second and final Test against Pakistan here.


Watched by a crowd that included former Miss Universe Wendy Fitzwilliam and former World heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis, the 37-year-old Lara was undefeated on 125 to lead West Indies to 275 for four, replying to Pakistan's first innings total of 374, when stumps were drawn on the second day on Saturday.


The wicket of West Indies captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the last over of the day shifted the balance of power however, after he added 70 for the fourth wicket with Lara, who also put on 146 for the third wicket with Ramnaresh Sarwan, who scored 55.


Lara played strokes of all descriptions, but endured a tense period in the 90s, when Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq employed Shabbir Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, two bowlers with questionable bowling actions.


Gathering all of his experience, Lara fought through the tension and eventually glanced Malik to the deep fine leg boundary for four to reach his second hundred of the series to follow his 130 in the first Test at Bridgetown.


Lara, who was also watched by another former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, has smote 16 fours and two sixes from 189 balls in fours hours of batting that produced his fourth hundred of the West Indies' international home series.


Lara batted circumspectly through the early period of his innings and had treated Kaneria with scant disrespect on his way his 50. He lofted the leg-spin bowler for two sixes over long-on onto the Mound, the well-populated party stand, much to the delight of the crowd there.


Lara continued to celebrate with three successive boundaries - two crunching pulls and a scorching square cut - off Rana Naved-ul-Hasan.


Sarwan played more sedately and offered his more accomplished batting partner steady support, even offering Lara a few calming words, when he may have shown a rush of blood.


Lara and Sarwan had been brought together when Abdul Razzaq bowled Devon Smith for 25 in the second over after West Indies continued from their lunch position of 59 for one.


Sarwan, Lara's former deputy, also played a few telling strokes, including a punishing cut off Shahid Afridi through cover for four, and they helped West Indies to cruise to 162 for two at tea.


After the break, just when the crowd was settling down for the Lara and Sarwan Show for the remainder of the evening, the breakthrough came for Pakistan.


Sarwan, playing the hook shot that has cost him his wicket several times in the past, top-edged a short ball from Ahmed and was caught inside the long leg boundary. He batted three hours and struck eight fours from 137 balls.


Chanderpaul entered, and played the role he typically does whenever he finds Lara at the wicket. He nudged and nudged, and shepherded his illustrious predecessor to his milestone.


Again, just when it appeared that the batsmen were in firm control, Chanderpaul was caught behind for 28 edging a non-descript backfoot shot.


Before lunch, Smith in concert with fellow left-handed opener Chris Gayle, in particular, had given West Indies a flying start when they shared 48 for the first wicket.


Gayle struck boundaries from the first three deliveries of the innings from Rana Naved-ul-Hasan. He drove the first delivery through extra cover, then glanced the next ball to deep fine leg, before he whipped the following delivery through mid-wicket.


Razzaq, who replaced Rana, made the breakthrough, when he had a leaden-footed Gayle caught behind for 33, edging a well-pitched leg-cutter.


Earlier, it took West Indies almost an hour to wrap up the first innings of Pakistan, who continued from their bedtime position of 336 for six.


Fast bowler Corey Collymore, who snared four wickets on the opening day, ended with seven wickets for 78 runs from 27.3 overs to be the principal wrecker of the Pakistan innings.


Collymore struck with the last ball of the first over of the day, when he had Razzaq adjudged lbw for 19 playing back and across to a well-pitched ball moving back.


Daren Powell, gaining awkward bounce from the hard, true Sabina Park pitch, inflicted more pain on Pakistan when he struck Kamran Akmal flush on his box, and also forced Rana to retire hurt after he struck him on his right arm.


But wickets were uppermost on the West Indies' collective minds, and Collymore obliged when he had Ahmed caught behind for a duck.


Powell then insulted Akmal when he trapped him lbw for 49 with a ball that kept low to end with two for 69 from 21 overs, and Collymore duly completed the job when he bowled the sheepish Kaneria for six.


West Indies, who were beaten 2-0 at home by South Africa in their most recent Test series and lost eight consecutive One-day Internationals to the Proteas and Pakistan, lead the two-Test series 1-0, after winning the first Test at Bridgetown by 276 runs.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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