Lara's ton sets the tone for West Indies revival

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The Independent Online

The resolve that the hint of adversity and the sight of Australians stir in Brian Lara's complex consciousness in equal measure surfaced once more on the third day of the First Test yesterday.

The resolve that the hint of adversity and the sight of Australians stir in Brian Lara's complex consciousness in equal measure surfaced once more on the third day of the First Test yesterday.

The recalled West Indies captain strode to the wicket 15 minutes before lunch to the background of a host of off-field distractions, a deficit of 142 still to be cleared to prevent an innings defeat and the accompaniment of jeering from the packed Bourda stands upset by his preference over the sacked and absent Carl Hooper, a Guyanese.

When he left just over three hours later, to a bizarre dismissal as his bat hit the top of leg-stump as he missed a sweep shot against left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg, he had 110 to his name. His seventh Test hundred against his favourite opponents and his 19th overall took 157 balls and included 20 fours, helping to put the West Indies in the lead and back in contention. The mood of his fickle hecklers had markedly changed and he returned to the pavilion to an ovation.

Unlike several of his past masterpieces against Australia, this was no single-handed effort. Two of the team's lesser lights were equally responsible for a West Indies total of 381 for 5 at the close, a lead of 129 with two days remaining, an equation that provides them with an unlikely chance of victory.

The 21-year-old opener Devon Smith, in his debut Test, set the mood for the revival with a sparkling 62, including 13 fours, in the first session. After he snicked a wicket-keeper's catch off Jason Gillespie, the solid right-hander Daren Ganga was Lara's ideal foil in a third-wicket partnership of 185.

Ganga outlasted his captain to complete his own hundred, 113, his first in his 18 Tests before a careless stroke off the left-arm spin of Darren Lehman cost him his wicket after five and a quarter diligent hours in which he hit a six and 19 fours.

It brought the number of hundreds in the match to five, following Shivnarine Chanderpaul's in the West Indies first innings and those by Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting for Australia, emphasising the nature of a lifeless pitch and parched, fast outfield that combined to yield 156 fours and nine sixes over the three days.

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