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Lara has a new task at hand!

Having risen a third time to the post of Windies captain, batting superstar Lara has been building a side that can be very competitive.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 11:50 IST

Having risen a third time to the post of West Indies captain, batting superstar Brian Lara has been building a side that can be very competitive at the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

This is why Lara, who turned 37 on last Tuesday, was looking forward to the third one-day international against Zimbabwe on Saturday at Bourda Oval which was abandoned on the eve of the match.

He believes his side must grasp any and every opportunity that is placed before it to play cricket and feels that the abandonment is a setback to moving forward.

"We wanted to get the maximum out of this series with Zimbabwe and this includes preparation and the actual cricket," Lara told reporters at a news conference on the eve of the match.

"These two weeks of cricket against Zimbabwe were to get us ready for greater things, not only like India in the West Indies, but the rest of the cricket we have for the year.

He added: "We have the ICC Champions Trophy. We are defending champions, but we find ourselves with the possibility of not making the final eight of the tournament.

"So we have some serious cricket ahead of us, since we are also going to Pakistan and the World Cup in the West Indies is less than 12 months away."

Lara said the more matches his side plays, the more experience they have to gain ahead of the World Cup. "We do not expect to go out and win every single match in which we play, but we want to be able to compete in every single match, and learn from every single experience," he said.

"It has to start now. We want to arrive at the World Cup with the other teams knowing that the West Indies are going to be a force with which to be reckoned. We have a number of games in which to prove ourselves, so we do not want to be a disappointment.

"We want to be able to hold our heads up high, and enter the World Cup with people confident that we can win. The next 10 to 11 months are geared towards getting the guys ready, and from now we need to be very, very competitive."

The West Indies team arrived in Guyana on Wednesday and had practice sessions scheduled on Thursday and Friday at the Everest Cricket Club in the capital, but practice was not possible on either day due to a wet outfield and damp pitch.

Although this and the abandonment are a bother for Lara, since he would prefer his teammates to learn their craft on the field, Lara said no play only meant another opportunity for what he has described as "classroom cricket.

"We have spent the time talking about our strengths and weakness, and the different areas in which we have to improve," he said.

"We have found in the past that we have put ourselves in good situations and unable to grasp the opportunity to finish off matches, so we are analysing past matches, not only games involving West Indies, but others too, and entering discussion on areas in which we thought the matches slipped away."

He continued: "This is an area in which we are trying to get more of a contribution from the guys and get more cricket talk going.

"I have sensed over the years that the ability is there, but the problem has been putting it together on the field under pressure, so getting the guys accustomed to match scenarios is important to us."

West Indies lead the seven-match series against the Zimbabweans 2-0, after back-to-back wins by five wickets and 98 runs last weekend in Antigua and were eyeing a double victory in Guyana to close out the series.

On the advice of local authorities, ICC match officials decided to call off the third ODI at Bourda, and remain hopeful that play will be possible for the fourth ODI on Sunday at the same venue.

There has been persistent rain on the Guyanese coastline over the past two days, and the weather forecast is for further rain on Saturday.