Lara shifts focus on World Cup after defeat

Brian Lara wants to focus on 2007 World Cup after losing both the Test matches against Pakistan.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 20:09 IST

After losing 2-0 to Pakistan in its three-match Test series, West Indies captain Brian Lara said on Friday he is going to focus on 2007 World Cup in Barbados. Pakistan won the third and decisive Test by 199 runs after the West Indies, chasing a mammoth 444-run target, was bowled out for 244 an hour after tea on the fifth and final day. "Our main focus is now the World Cup final at Barbados," Lara said.

Pakistan won the first Test by nine wickets inside four days at Lahore before drawing the second Test at Multan last week. "I think coming to Pakistan and play a Test series you could only be positive because it's the toughest conditions," Lara said. "But we are not down in the dumps, we are moving to the one-day games which we play a lot better than Test matches." The five-match limited-overs series begins in Rawalpindi on December 5, 2006, before the West Indies play another four one-day internationals in India in January 2007 before the World Cup begins in the West Indies from March 13, 2007.

"Our performances in Test matches still needs a lot to be desired, but in one-day arena we have played very good cricket in the last two to three months," Lara said.

The West Indies has won just one Test match out of the last 25 against Pakistan at home, while losing 17 and drawing seven. In the shorter version of the game, the West Indies has shown a marked improvement in 2006. It defeated India 4-1 at home before qualifying for the finals of the triangular series in Malaysia and the ICC Champions Trophy in India, where they were beaten by world champion Australia on both occasions.

Pakistan's master batsman Mohammad Yousuf overshadowed Lara's brilliance in the series, scoring 665 runs and also broke Viv Richards' (1,710) 30-year-old record of most runs in a calendar year when he scored centuries in each innings of the third Test to amass 1,788 runs in 2006 from 11 Test matches.

"Yousuf was exceptional, but the credit goes to the whole team for winning the series 2-0," Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said. Pakistan paceman Umar Gul was the perfect substitute for banned fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif and took 16 wickets on slow and low wickets in the three Test matches, including nine in his match-winning performance at Lahore.

"Everyone is praising Yousuf, but I think Gul bowled exceptionally well on such slow tracks," Inzamam said. "We were not at our full strength in the absence of Akhtar and Asif, but Gul helped us to claim 20 West Indies wickets both at Lahore and in Karachi."

It was the first time since the home series against New Zealand in 1964-65 that Pakistan played the same eleven in the three-Test series, and Inzamam kept his faith in all-rounder Abdul Razzaq instead of going with a fourth specialist bowler. "I was criticized for not playing the fourth fast bowler, but on such low and slow wickets, I didn't think it was the right choice," Inzamam said while defending his decision to play Razzaq in all the three Test matches against the West Indies.

First Published: Dec 01, 2006 20:09 IST