Cricket: Century by Lara shines in gloom

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The Independent Online
BRIAN LARA continued to decimate Australia's bowling, and spirit, on the second day of the fourth Test here yesterday with an assault even more ferocious than his 213 in the second Test and his match-winning, unbeaten 153 in the third.

Badly dropped by Colin Miller at mid-wicket when 14 off his old adversary, Glenn McGrath, Lara proceeded to lay waste the three inexperienced Australian bowlers - Miller, Adam Dale and Stuart MacGill - with savage disdain. He completed an even 100 off 82 balls in 96 minutes, so dominating a partnership of 116 with Dave Joseph for the third wicket that Joseph contributed only 15.

Two balls later, 55 minutes into the final session, the persevering McGrath ended the Easter Sunday entertainment, finding Lara's glove with a bodyline bouncer for wicket-keeper Ian Healy to complete a wide leg-side catch, inches from the grass. It left the West Indies 136 for 3, replying to 303, and brought some sanity back to the proceedings.

Lara came in after the West Indies openers, Sherwin Campbell and Adrian Griffith, had fallen cheaply to edged catches off Miller, operating in his medium-pace mode. He took a little time to find his bearings, had his luck when Miller missed his catch and MacGill missed the stumps on a run out chance in the same over.

Lara wasted no time seizing on the opportunity to exploit the bowlers' inexperience. He hit two sixes off the leg-spinner and one off the medium- pace of Dale. In top gear, he moved from 50 to 100 from 21 balls with two sixes and seven fours. But he could not master McGrath and it was fitting that he eventually claimed Lara's wicket. Carl Hooper then came in and kept the score ticking over until Dale gained some reward for his efforts, trapping Joseph lbw late in the day. He then swiung the game Australia's way by removing Jimmy Adams, caught behind without scoring, and after trapped Ridley Jacobs leg before, Hooper was left to carry the innings.

Lara's brilliance turned what had been a memorable day to an unforgettable one for Miller, who had earlier lashed 41 off 38 balls and removed Campbell and Griffith in his first two overs.

After Curtly Ambrose seized the initiative for the West Indies with three quick wickets in the morning, Miller dominated a stand of 53 with captain Steve Waugh as Australia recovered to a total of 303.

Ambrose had dispatched Healy, Dale and MacGill, all to slip catches off tentative edges, within the first 50 minutes. When Miller arrived, Australia were 242 for 8 and Waugh was in danger of running out of partners. Miller's approach to the situation was forthright and immediate, paying particular attention to Ambrose.

Lara had to turn to the more gentle offerings of Jimmy Adams' left-arm spin which did the trick in six balls, Miller cross-batting a catch to mid-wicket. Ambrose claimed his fifth wicket of the innings, finding last man Glenn McGrath's edge for a catch to the keeper. Once more, Waugh found himself left high and dry at the end of an innings, unbeaten on 72.

Australia won toss; second day of five

AUSTRALIA - First Innings

M J Slater c Joseph b Perry 33

G S Blewett c Jacobs b Collymore 32

J L Langer run out 51

M E Waugh c Hooper b Walsh 11

*S R Waugh not out 72

R T Ponting lbw b Ambrose 21

I A Healy c Hooper b Ambrose 6

A C Dale c Hooper b Ambrose 1

S C G MacGill c Joseph b Ambrose 4

C R Miller c Joseph b Adams 43

G D McGrath c Jacobs b Ambrose 5

Extras (lb5 nb19) 24

Total (111.5 overs) 303

Fall: 1-60, 2-76, 3-96, 4-155, 5-211, 6-226, 7-232, 8-242, 9-295.

Bowling: Ambrose 29.5-6-94-5 (nb6); Walsh 26-1-67-1 (nb7); Collymore 25-6-49-1 (nb4); Perry 15-5-36-1; Adams 6-1-18-1; Hooper 10-1-34-0 (nb2).

WEST INDIES - First Innings

S L Campbell c M E Waugh b Miller 8

A F G Griffith c Healy b Miller 9

D R E Joseph lbw b Dale 28

*B C Lara c Healy b McGrath 100

C L Hooper not out 40

J C Adams c Healy b Dale 0

R D Jacobs lbw b MacGill 4

N O Perry not out 2

Extras (nb6) 6

Total (for 6, 50.1 overs) 197

Fall: 1-19, 2-20, 3-136, 4-176, 5-178, 6-192.

To bat: C E L Ambrose, C A Walsh, C D Collymore.

Bowling: McGrath 23-8-48-1 (nb3); Dale 18-7-67-2 (nb2); Miller 17-5-39- 2 (nb1); MacGill 10-3-43-1.

Umpires: D L Orchard (SA) and S A Bucknor (WI).