Lara puts SA bowlers to the sword
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Lara puts SA bowlers to the sword

Brian Lara made a battling century before finishing the third day of the first Test against South Africa in a blaze of glory.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2003 01:00 IST

West Indian captain Brian Lara made a battling century before finishing the third day of the first Test against South Africa in a blaze of glory at the Wanderers Stadium on Sunday.

Lara hit a world Test record of 28 off the penultimate over of the day as he scored 178 not out and enabled the West Indies to avoid the follow-on.

The previous most number of runs scored in a single over was 26 by New Zealand's Craig McMillan off Pakistan's Younis Khan in Hamilton three years ago.

West Indies were 363 for six at close of play, 198 behind South Africa's first innings total of 561.

In difficult conditions, on a pitch with variable bounce, Lara had to work hard for much of the day but he showed his brilliance when South African skipper Graeme Smith asked left-arm spinner Robin Peterson to bowl a single over at the end of the day.

Lara smashed the first ball through the covers for four, thrashed the next two for six over midwicket, hit two straight drives for four and cut the last ball to the boundary.

Lara was dropped twice, a straightforward chance to Shaun Pollock at first slip off Makhaya Ntini and a difficult one when he slashed Jacques Kallis wide of Peterson at gully when he had 62.

Peterson dived to his right but could only get his fingertips to the ball.

It was Lara's 23rd Test century but his first in 12 matches against South Africa.

He hugged batting partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul and kissed his helmet after he reached his hundred off Pollock in the last over before tea. He reached the landmark off 142 balls and hit 16 fours.

By the close, Lara had faced 239 balls and hit 28 fours and two sixes.

He struggled at the start of his innings, particularly against fast bowler Ntini, but scored briskly between lunch and tea, when he made 70 runs off 80 balls but was pegged back by some hostile bowling after tea, taking another 89 balls to get to 150.

Then came his dazzling assault against Peterson.

Regular opening batsman Chris Gayle, who tore a hamstring while fielding Friday, did not bat, although he was still due to go in with a runner.

Batting was not easy for any of the batsmen but Lara had solid support from Daren Ganga, who took Gayle's place at the top of the order.

Ganga made only 11 runs off 72 balls during the morning before he was caught off a mistimed hook for 60 in the first over after lunch.

Fellow left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul (34) helped Lara put on 125 in 168 minutes for the fourth wicket before he was bowled when he played a defensive back foot shot against Ntini and the ball bounced back into his stumps.

The South Africans, who toiled hard on a third successive day of searing heat, were given renewed hope when Ridley Jacobs and Vasbert Drakes were dismissed.

The home team still have a chance of pressing for victory if they can finish off the West Indian innings early Monday.

They will seek to set a stiff target before bowling in the last innings on a pitch which is likely to deteriorate further as cracks widen under the sun.

Before lunch, Lara had edged Ntini short of gully, fended off a lifting delivery and was struck on the body when he missed a pull.

Then he went back to a full length delivery and the ball went off an edge low on his bat. It was a straightforward chance to Pollock who juggled the ball before it fell to the ground.

But Lara raced from 30 to 53 off 14 balls after lunch, with Ntini taking the most punishment, conceding 26 runs off four overs.

First Published: Dec 14, 2003 19:37 IST