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Lara hits a ton but S. Africa on top

Brian Lara made a defiant century and became the fastest batsman to 9,000 Test runs but South Africa were in a strong position after the third day of the third Test.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2004 23:22 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

West Indian captain Brian Lara made a defiant century and became the fastest batsman to 9,000 Test runs but South Africa were in a strong position after the third day of the third Test at Newlands on Sunday.

South Africa were 38 for no wicket in their second innings, an overall lead of 143, despite Lara hitting 115 in a West Indian total of 427.

Lara batted with a determination befitting a man who vowed after the second Test in Durban there would no repeat of the whitewash defeat his side suffered in a five-match series in South Africa five seasons ago.

South Africa lead the current four-match series 2-0.

In making his 24th Test century, Lara subjugated his normal attacking flair, taking 170 minutes and 134 balls to reach his fifty and 306 minutes and 224 balls for his hundred.

Lara took more than an hour to progress through the nineties and he was stuck on 99 for an agonising 25 minutes, although he faced only 12 balls in that time before hooking Jacques Kallis for the only six of his innings.

He hit 16 fours before he swung across the line against fast bowler Andre Nel to be last man out.

Nel took five for 87, his first five-wicket haul in Tests.

When he was on 84, Lara became the fifth player to score 9,000 Test runs, achieving the feat faster than any of the other four, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar.

He was playing his 177th innings.

The previous fastest was Tendulkar of India, who scored his 9,000th run against Australia in his 179th innings in Sydney on Friday.

South Africa's bowlers came back strongly after taking a battering Saturday when the West Indies raced to 178 for one in 35 overs, with Chris Gayle slamming a 79-ball century.

Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, who scored freely on the second evening, were both out in the first half hour Sunday, without threatening to repeat their dazzling strokeplay of the previous day.

Gayle, who was unbeaten on 112 off 105 balls overnight, added only four more runs off 15 deliveries before padding up to Shaun Pollock to be out leg before wicket.

Three overs later, Sarwan, having taken his score from 39 to 44, cut Nel straight to Neil McKenzie at deep backward point.

With Pollock and Nel bowling accurately and to a fuller length than Saturday, the tempo of play was in stark contrast to Saturday, when 402 runs were scored off 90 overs.

After the first hour, only 13 runs had been added for the loss of two wickets in 14 overs.

Pollock, who conceded 46 runs off seven overs Saturday, bowled a spell of one for two in six overs, including a no-ball. Nel took one for 11 off seven overs.

Even though Lara had a succession of useful partnerships, the South African bowlers kept the pressure on the batsmen and with Lara batting with unusual caution the run rate seldom climbed.

New cap Dave Mohammed made a breezy but lucky 36 off 36 balls, playing the major role in a stand of 48 with Lara during which the captain only advanced from 94 to 99.

Nel was consistently South Africa's most threatening bowler and his victims included four of the top six in the West Indian batting order.

With the West Indies nine down, captain Graeme Smith gave him the ball again and with his first delivery of a new spell he bowled Lara, who batted for a total of 326 minutes and faced 238 balls.

With ten overs remaining in the day, South Africa signalled their intention to try to set a challenging total with some aggressive strokeplay by Smith and Herschelle Gibbs at the start of the second innings.

Smith was lucky when with his score on four he hooked Fidel Edwards and Adam Sanford, running around the boundary at deep backward square leg, allowed the ball to slip through his hands and go for four.

First Published: Jan 04, 2004 23:22 IST