West Indies gamble on Lara to turn the tide

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The Independent Online

The West Indies will be gambling on Brian Lara's fitness in this week's third Test against England at Old Trafford.

The West Indies will be gambling on Brian Lara's fitness in this week's third Test against England at Old Trafford.

The brilliant left-hander has been struggling with a right hamstring strain and has not played competitive cricket since 16 July. But with WestIndies' resources stretched to the limit with Shivnarine Chanderpaul also ruled out with an arm injury and pace bowler Franklyn Rose doubtful with a knee problem, the Trinidadian left-hander will take his place in their line-up despite not being physically or match fit.

"He won't be 100 per cent but he'll be a lot closer than he was in the first couple of one-day games that he played," said the West Indies manager, Ricky Skerritt. "It got to the point during that tournament that there was no point playing him any more because there was no way we were going to get into the final. He needed some rest and he's had that now. It is a gamble, but thedecision had to be made."

Chanderpaul, who sustained his arm injury during the opening Test victory at Edgbaston, has been told by specialists that he needs a further 10 days' rest before returning. The highly rated youngster Ramnaresh Sarwan is a contender to fill Chanderpaul's middle-order position. Meanwhile, Chris Gayle, whose off-spin could also be useful at Old Trafford, may drop down the order.

Nixon McLean, rated the quickest of West Indies' fast bowling battery, is favourite to replace the injured Rose and join Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Reon King in their formidable attack.

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