Exciting finish in prospect after Lara century

John Ward

August 6, 2000

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Cornhill Insurance

England began the fourth day in the knowledge that a quick breakthrough would give them an excellent chance to record a victory over the West Indies and take a two-one lead in the five-match series. Instead, a century of moods by Brian Lara played the main part in enabling the West Indies to fight back strongly.

By close of play, West Indies had progressed to 381 for six, 235 runs ahead, investing the final day with the potential to produce a finish as wonderful as that of the Lord's Test.

West Indies continued from their overnight score of 131 in the second innings, 15 runs behind England. A quiet opening half-hour ended with the dismissal of Wavell Hinds (25), driving rather loosely at Gough to be caught at the wicket, a genuine dismissal for the hitherto unlucky West Indian this time. West Indies were 145 for two, one run behind England, and Lara strode to the crease.

Adrian Griffith moved anonymously to his fifty, which took him just over four hours, but was then trapped lbw for 54, playing across the line to Darren Croft; 164 for three. Lara struggled for a long time to find his touch, but fought it out and the runs came, however unconvincingly. He suddenly danced down the pitch to hit Croft for a superb straight six and from that point on began to play his strokes with greater freedom and timing. By lunch, in partnership with Jimmy Adams (7), he had taken the West Indian lead to 65 with seven wickets in hand, the match as finely balanced as ever. The score was 211 for three.

After lunch Lara pulled the first ball, from Croft, for three to reach his fifty. The new ball affected him not at all, and he continued to mix watchfulness and determination with regular strokes of unique class and the occasional mishit, Caddick in particular suffering at his hands. Scarcely an hour after reaching his fifty, Lara drove Dominic Cork through the covers to the boundary for his 14th Test century and sixth against England. He then went through a quiet period, but committed suicide for 112 just before tea; he charged down the pitch to a push on the leg side by Adams when it was the latter's call, and was beaten by Hussain's direct hit on the stumps. West Indies were 302 for four, as Sarwan joined Adams, who was unbeaten on 29 at tea.

Sarwan scored 19 before being trapped lbw by Caddick, but otherwise the final session was one of frustration for England, trying all they knew but unable to make the decisive breakthrough necessary to keep their hopes of victory alive. Adams reached another marathon fifty, but two balls later was adjudged lbw to Cork for 53; 373 for six, and West Indies now 227 ahead. Ridley Jacobs (25) played some good strokes and was still there at the close with Franklyn Rose (8).

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