Lara lifts Windies with ton

Associated Press

Bridgetown, April 22:

Brian Lara smashed his second century in successive matches with a superlative 176 but South Africa earned the honours against the West Indies on the first day on Thursday of the third Test. Lara dominated with some majestic strokeplay but West Indies would have been disappointed with 292 for seven at the close at Kensington Oval. Lara’s 28th Test century was spiced with 21 fours and a towering six off 224 balls in nearly six hours. He struggled for support, and only captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul (53) and Dwayne Bravo (26) offered it.

Fast bowler Andre Nel claimed Lara with the second new ball as two wickets fell late in the day to tilt the balance to South Africa, which lead the four-Test series 1-0. South Africa was on top early when the West Indies, after winning the toss, slumped to 12-3 inside the opening


Nel gained the initial breakthrough in the day’s first over when Chris Gayle (0) was late in trying to withdraw his bat and nicked to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. Ntini further deflated the home crowd of 6,500 when he removed Wavell Hinds (1) to an edge to a delighted South African skipper Graeme Smith at first slip. Lara, who scored 196 in the second Test at Trinidad, entered with his team in another crisis which became worse when Ramnaresh Sarwan simply swatted a catch to backward point off Nel on 10. But Lara and fellow left-hander Chanderpaul repaired the damage either side of lunch in a levelheaded stand of 138. Chanderpaul had just passed his half century when Zondeki struck with his first ball of a new spell. Chanderpaul feathered a square cut through to Boucher after stroking six fours off 138 balls in three hours.

When Kallis removed Ryan Hinds (10) soon after tea, the innings was at the crossroads at 171-5. But Lara responded in typically positive fashion. He brought up his century with a nudge for two off his 140th delivery. He moved into fifth on the all-time list of Test century-makers, passing Australian great Allan Border, and moving one shy of joining the legendary Don Bradman. Lara found another useful ally in the resolute Bravo, who was prepared to let his senior partner blaze away at the other end. As the stand grew, the South Africans anticipated a breakthrough when they took the second new ball as soon as it became available. But Lara greeted with one of the strokes of the day, a stunning cover drive to take him past 150 for the 16th time in Tests. He continued to flay the pace, and Ntini was smashed for three fours in one over.