Cutting off frills, Lara led from front

laraIt was not a historic moment, but one to cherish nonetheless. For the one-time giants of world cricket now starved of success, a one-day series win against a high-flying side could be momentous. Appropriately, the Queen’s Park Oval was decked up for the occasion, with the flags of Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Vincent, Guyana and that of the West Indies Cricket Board causing a riot of colours in the stands.

Most of these tiny nations - along with a few others which constitute West Indies cricket - are not very prosperous and don’t have a common thread like the countries under the European Union. What unites them are primarily cricket, and then music. Friday saw a celebration of both, which killed Sunday’s final ODI as a contest, giving Brian Lara’s team an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series. It was also appropriate that Lara laid the foundation stone of the victory with Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo in what was his penultimate ODI at home. He said it would be a special moment on Sunday. “It wasn’t very different in the fourth match, but the last one is going to be emotional. I hope to add some more to what I have here.”

For a man who has played some of the most exhilarating innings during his years in international cricket, Lara was more a picture of determination than bravado. The back-lift was high as usual, but the follow-through was uncharacteristically subdued. He cut off all the frills and avoided stroking the ball square off the wicket, which makes him probably the most attractive batsman of his generation and arguably, a few more generations. He was leading by example still, looking for the future leader. “I am trying to improve every player, including a couple of potential leaders that we have, so that when I leave we have somebody who can take the side ahead,” he said. “That’s my job at the moment. When I quit, I would like to sit back and see the future of our cricket in good hands. That’s the real reason why I have become captain again.”

The man to have seen the worst of the West Indian cricket at a time when he was conquering everything as a batsman felt he had detected a chink in the Indian armoury: “Their batting lacks experience without Sachin Tendulkar. With (Irfan) Pathan coming in at No. 7, we knew they had a long tail and wanted to put them under pressure. It was a question of winning the situations when the game was in balance and winning this battle was the key.” Refusing to identify Bravo’s slower ball which castled Yuvraj Singh with India two short of victory in the second ODI as the defining moment of the series, Lara said: “That was an important ball but I was upset with the two previous balls he bowled (both going for fours). It was (Ramnaresh) Sarwan’s knock which kept us in that match. That was the most significant performance of this series.”

Source:India Sports

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Written by Team CricketViewer on May 28th, 2006 with no comments.
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