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Lara rules out whitewash after defeat

West Indian captain Brian Lara ruled out a second successive whitewash in South Africa after his team were beaten in the second Test on Monday.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2003 08:21 IST

West Indian captain Brian Lara ruled out a second successive whitewash defeat in South Africa after his team were beaten by an innings and 65 runs on the fourth day of the second Test at Kingsmead Monday.

"There's no chance of a whitewash," said Lara after the match. The master batsman added his team were improving all the time and were looking forward to 2004 as a new start.

They take on South Africa again on the second day of the new year when they play the third Test at Newlands, Cape Town, Friday.

They have lost both matches so far in the four-Test series and lost all five Tests in 1998/99.

Even if the persistent injury problems dogging his side don't clear up, Lara said his team would not suffer the fate of the side he led five years ago.

"It's not going to happen," he insisted.

Lara appeared on the verge of backtracking when he was asked whether the West Indies could win the last two Tests to share the series.

"That's a possibility he said. A whitewash is also a possibility - but I'm ruling it out."

Lara said he was being realistic in his assessment that his side were improving.

"Our batting is getting better all the time. We've got a bowling problem but that's easier to fix than the batting."

He said the fight shown by the current side was already an improvement on recent performances on away tours to Sri Lanka, Australia and England.

Lara said the toss had played a big role, with his side being bowled out for 264 in overcast conditions after being sent in on a pitch with early life.

The pitch then played easily as South Africa scored 658 for nine under sunny skies.

The West Indies were bowled out for 329 Monday despite centuries by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

"Take away the first session of the first day and the game would still be alive," Lara said of the first morning, when the West Indies lost five wickets cheaply.

South African captain Graeme Smith said he would not comment on Lara's assertion that his team would not lose 4-0.

"We've got to work hard. We have to knuckle down for the remaining two games, it's so easy to lose focus."

Smith, who did not field in the second innings because of an injured right hamstring, said he was proud of the way his players had "stuck to their guns" to bowl out the West Indies in good batting conditions.

"To be honest, we didn't expect to get all 10 wickets today," he said.

"Our bowlers have struggled on flat wickets, so it's nice to see us bowling sides out on flat pitches."

The South African captain said he was particularly proud of fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who finished the year as the leading world wicket-taker in Test cricket, with 59 scalps in 12 matches.

"We're all so proud of Makhaya. He's had to bowl in different conditions, including the sub-continent. He's worked hard on his game and he's bowling from closer to the stumps. He's grown so much as a person and a fast bowler."

Smith said he had not fielded because he wanted to be sure he was fit for the third Test.

"We've worked hard on the injury today and there are three more days to go. I should be ready for Friday."

Lara said injured opening batsman Chris Gayle and seam bowler Corey Collymore were making good progress after missing the second Test because of hamstring injuries.

He said he was not sure of the situation regarding Chanderpaul, who made 109 on Monday despite batting with a runner because of a thigh strain.

Sarwan, who hit 114 after being hit on the back of his helmet by a bouncer from Ntini, said he had a headache but otherwise felt fine.

First Published: Dec 30, 2003 08:21 IST