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South Africa captain Graham Smith (background) celebrating the big prize, after Brian Lara is bowled.

Blazing Brian - Sunday 10, April-2005 by HAYDN GILL AT QUEEN’S PARK OVAL

South Africa captain Graham Smith (background) celebrating the big prize, after Brian Lara is bowled.

For half-hour yesterday morning, the mercurial Brian Lara was as hot as a raging fire in downtown Port-of-Spain.

For the remainder of the day, the West Indies only seldom reached boiling point again.

While Lara was blazing away when firefighters were trying to control the flames on the busy Frederick Street in the heart of the capital city, later in the day his bowlers could only provide the occasional sparks on the second day of the second Digicel Test against South Africa.

As the king of land was seemingly moving in sight of another significant milestone after completing a West Indian record 27th Test century the previous day, his loyal subjects in the stands were dancing, jumping and prancing in keeping with the spirit of Carnival they celebrated not so long ago.

The mood was transformed to Good Friday when their renowned son of the soil was denied an eighth double century in Tests with a beauty of a ball that not even the greatest of greats would conquer.

Lara was on 196 and four away from going past England’s Wally Hammond and moving into second place behind the legendary Sir Donald Bradman on the list of batsmen with the most double hundreds. Then came Andre Nel to bowl him with the perfectly pitched off-cutter.

Lara was last out when the West Indies were dismissed for 347 and South Africa used the rest of the day to build an encouraging platform of 182 for three on the back of captain Graeme Smith’s unbeaten 90, but they would have been disappointed after losing the wicket of linchpin Jacques Kallis in the last over of the day.

The left-handed Smith, strong on the on-side even though the ball was pitched on off stump, batted fluently in heading to an eighth Test century and showed no effects of the blow he sustained in the nets on Thursday when a cut to the chin required five stitches.

Not many times did the West Indies come close to dislodging Smith in the four and three quarter hours he has been in, but it wasn’t exactly all smooth sailing for South Africa.

Dwayne Bravo, the confident all-rounder who has the knack of making things happen, seldom delivered a ball off-line and was rewarded with the scalps of the two Jacques, Rudolph 15 minutes before tea and Kallis at the end of the day. Bravo’s only blemish was a difficult return chance offered by Smith on 39.

Pedro Collins caused plenty trouble to Kallis in the post-tea session when he made the ball bounce appreciably off a good length. It was a major turnaround for the left-arm fast medium who looked innocuous in his first two spells in which he was again plagued by no-ball problems.

Collins overstepped three times in his first over, twice when he switched ends and on another two occasions when he returned to the Gerry Gomez Media Centre End.

Reon King also sent down three no-balls and after all the hard-work in the two days leading up to the Test that involved the use of a tape measure, it made a mockery out coach Bennett King’s pre-match comment that he expected “few no-balls, if any”.

When King replaced Collins after he troubled the right-hander, the two balls in the first over which pitched on about the same length that Collins made the ball jump, virtually skidded along the turf, a sign of varying bounce even before the half-way stage of the match.

Kallis played solidly for his 39 that occupied more than two hours, but apart from negotiating the difficult Collins, he also had the benefit a chance through Ramnaresh Sarwan’s hands at slip when he was 33.

The third-wicket stand of 95 between Smith and Kallis took the balance in South Africa’s favour after West Indies removed AB de Villiers and Rudolph after lunch. de Villiers, again attractive when driving through the off-side, hit a low catch to extra-cover off King and Rudolph snicked an off-cutter from Bravo to the keeper.

It was a mixed bag for Lara after he resumed on 159 with Courtney Browne and the West Indies seeking to extend on their overnight 281 for six.

Lara started with a couple boundaries, but was then reduced to a shadow of himself after the dismissals of Browne and Daren Powell to the impressive Makhaya Ntini.

When the confident Powell was in, Lara had little of the strike and when the No. 9s entertaining 15 that included two pulled fours came to an end, Lara suddenly seemed to have lost his touch.

He was 171 when the last man King joined him and just as suddenly as he went into an unrecognisable state, he was once more quickly strutting off the stuff that makes him one of the finest batsmen of all time.

There was a fabulous extra-cover drive off Ntini in which Lara backed away before launching into what was maybe the most memorable of his 25 boundaries. There was also a savage pull off Nel, who responded with a lifter that made Lara uncomfortable.

When Lara shook it off by again backing away to pull Ntini, a double hundred seemed inevitable.

There was a hush around the Oval, however, when Nel’s perfectly pitched off-cutter breached Lara’s defence and barely clipped the off-stump to the extent that the bowler didn’t even realise what had happened.

It was the sixth time in nine innings that Nel had dismissed Lara. On this occasion, the bowler could not claim he won the battle.


WEST INDIES 1st Innings

(overnight 281-6)

WW Hinds c Smith b Ntini…………………32

C.H. Gayle c wk Boucher b Ntini……………6

R.R. Sarwan c Nel b Ntini …………………..5

B.C. Lara b Nel ……………………………196

(440 mins, 286 balls, 25x4)

*S. Chanderpaul c and b Boje ……………35

D.J. Pagon b Ntini …………………………...0

D.J.J. Bravo b Nel……………………………5

+C.O. Browne c Rudolph b Ntini………….26

(99 mins, 77 balls, 3x4)

D.B. Powell b Ntini …………………………15

(26 mins, 29 balls, 3x4)

P.T. Collins lbw b Nel ………………………..2

(16 mins, 9 balls)

R.D. King not out …………………………….1

(21 mins, 5 balls)

Extras (b4, lb8, w2, nb5, pen5) …………24

TOTAL (all out – 104.4 overs) …………347

Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Gayle), 2-13 (Sarwan), 3-108 (Hinds), 4-203 (Chanderpaul), 5-204 (Pagon), 6-225 (Bravo), 7-299 (Browne), 8-318 (Powell), 9-325 (Collins), 10-347 (Lara).

Bowling: Nel 28.4-7-71-3 (w1), Ntini 28-3-95-6, Kallis 13-4-41-0, Zondeki 15-0-71-0 (w1, nb3), Boje 20-2-52-1.

SOUTH AFRICA 1st Innings

*G.C. Smith not out ………………………...90

(285 mins, 196 balls, 10x4)

AB de Villiers c Chanderpaul b King ……..33

(69 mins, 53 balls, 4x4)

J.A. Rudolph c wk Browne b Bravo………...8

(46 mins, 30 balls, 2x4)

J.H. Kallis lbw b Bravo ……………………..39

(162 mins, 131 balls, 4x4)

M. Zondeki not out …………………………..1

Extras (b1, nb10) ………………………….11

TOTAL (3 wkts – 67 overs) …………….182

Fall of wickets: 1-70 (de Villiers), 2-86 (Rudolph), 3-181 (Kallis).

To bat: H.H. Gibbs, A.G. Prince, +M.V. Boucher, N. Boje, N. Ntini, A Nel.

Bowling: Collins 13-2-40-0 (nb7), Powell 12-2-58-0, King 12-3-21-1 (nb3), Bravo 14-3-39-2, Gayle 16-6-23-0.

Umpires: David Shepherd (England), Aleem Dar (Pakistan). TV replays: Billy Doctrove (Dominica). Reserve official: Terrance Birbal (Trinidad).

Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand).



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