A Barbados classic
Pulsating, never-jangling, thrilling. The adverbs just don't seem to do justice to the final session of the Barbados Test of 1999.
Fresh from a monumental, match-winning double-century in Jamaica, Brian Lara was at it again, but in far more dramatic circumstances. Kensington Oval had seen some classic contests over the years, yet hardly any could have matched the spectacle of the master batsman defying all that Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill could offer in piloting his team to an amazing one-wicket win and the series lead against a ruthless Australian squad.
With West Indies more than 50 runs adrift of their target at 254 for 8 at tea, though, the balance was still with Steve Waugh's men. It was Curtly Ambrose's resolute defiance that re-ignited hope. As Lara edged the West Indies forward, even the giant Antiguan's solid defensive prods began to elicit cheers from the faithful, who could scarcely believe the miracle unfolding before their eyes.
Only six runs were needed when Ambrose fell and Caribbean hearts sank again at the very real prospect of Courtney Walsh being cleaned up in double-quick time. A helpless Lara watched his team-mate repel an entire McGrath over - every signature flourish that followed a defensive jab prompting a triumphant roar from the stands - before the captain delivered the crescendo, a trademark cover-drive for four off Gillespie. To put it simply, the place went wild.
Waugh described it as the greatest Test he had ever played in. Walsh still jokes about bringing home the match… with a little help from Lara. It was some time after the final ball that heart-rates returned to normal.
Fazeer Mohammed is a writer and broadcaster in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad