Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Masterful Lara takes on England


West Indian captain Brian Lara celebrates his double century against England during the second day of the 4th Test at the Recreation ground, St John's, Antigua, on Sunday.


Brian Lara claimed another piece of history on Sunday when he hit an unbeaten 313 to become only the second player to score two Test triple hundreds as the West Indies piled up 595 for five in their first innings in the fourth and final Test against England.

Captain Lara, a struggler in the previous three Tests of the series which his side lost, took advantage of the easy nature of the Antigua Recreation Ground pitch to fashion another innings of sheer mastery that dominated the day's proceedings.

Playing his 104th Test, the gifted left-hander smashed 34 fours and three sixes from more than 10 hours of batting that underlined West Indies' best batting performance in the series.

Lara reached his milestone when he played a delivery from Gareth Batty through backward point for a single.

It was his second triple hundred at this ground following his 375 against the same opponents 10 years earlier that stood as the individual batting world record until Australia's Matthew Hayden erased it against Zimbabwe last year.

Ironically, Sir Don Bradman, the late, great, former Australia captain, the only other Test batsman with two Test triple hundreds, also scored both his milestones against England, 334 and 304 both at Leeds in 1930 and 1934 respectively.

Lara marvelously anchored his side's innings that benefitted from consistent batting right down the order for the first time in the series. All four partnerships in which the batting star was involved yielded no less than 50 runs.

He and Ramnaresh Sarwan had set the tempo for the remainder of the day when they completed a 232-run stand for the third wicket, after West Indies continued from their bedtime position of 208 for two.

Steve Harmison, England's bowling hero in this series, made the breakthrough when he removed Sarwan about 15 minutes before the interval. Eyeing his fifth Test hundred, the West Indies vice captain was caught at first slip for 90.

He hit eight fours and one six from 166 balls in just over four hours of batting before falling in the first over with the second new ball as West Indies reached 342 for three at lunch.

After the interval, Simon Jones captured the only wicket for England in the period when he removed the adventurous Ricardo Powell, playing his first Test in four years.

Powell added 50 with Lara for the fourth wicket as the long, hard toil continued for the English before hooking at a short, rising ball from Jones he miscued and was caught just inside the third man boundary about 40 minutes after lunch.

For the remainder of the period, Lara and Ryan Hinds built upon the foundation given earlier in the day and took West Indies to 449 for four at tea.

After the break, just when it looked like Hinds was knuckling down to play another long, meaningful innings, he was caught and bowled by Batty for 36 to leave West Indies 469 for five.

Hinds and Lara added 89 for the fifth wicket.

England might have expected an end to their labor, but Lara continued to plunder their attack and found a reliable ally in Ridley Jacobs (47no) with whom he has added 126, unbroken, for the sixth wicket.

Batty has been England's most successful bowler with two wickets for 141 runs from 36 overs.

Jones, Harmison and Andrew Flintoff have each captured a wicket for the visitors, who lead the four-Test series 3-0 and are looking to complete an unprecedented Test series clean sweep in the Caribbean.

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