Fall before pride for Lara

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The West Indies batsman Brian Lara has been honoured as the International Cricketer of the Year, but he nearly missed the celebration in Bombay after immigration authorities there initially refused him entry.

The dumbfounded 27-year-old Trinidadian was informed by officials at Sahar International airport they could not allow him in as he had failed to secure a visa, the usual requirement for all Indian visitors.

However, they were forced to relent after Bombay cricket officials contacted the Ministry of the Interior, although Lara still had to leave his passport with immigration during his stay. Lara picked up over pounds 9,000 for the honour, awarded for the 1995-96 season.

The former West Indies captain, Clive Lloyd, said: "He is pure gold. As he matures I am sure he will lead the West Indies into the 21st century and to the top of world cricket ladder."

n The flamboyant opener Sanath Jayasuriya was Sri Lanka's hero with a 30-ball 45 as they overhauled South Africa's total of 169 with 9.2 overs and two wickets to spare to win their one-day match in the Kenyan centenary four-nation tournament in Nairobi yesterday. It was Sri Lanka's 13th victory in a row in one-day internationals.