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West Indies v India, 2nd Test, St Lucia, 5th day

A model of restraint

Brian Lara's 120 was an innings unlike a regular Lara knock - it had few flourishes, and hardly any extravagant strokeplay

On the Ball with S Rajesh

June 14, 2006

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The story of the final day of the St Lucia Test was Brian Lara. In three innings in this series before this, Lara had managed all of 25 runs, but here, with West Indies battling to stave off defeat, Lara rose to the challenge. It was an innings unlike a regular Lara knock - it had few flourishes, and hardly any extravagant strokeplay. However, it was exactly what the occasion demanded.

As the graphic shows, Lara defended or left alone 56% of the deliveries he faced (172 out of 307). On a pitch showing low - and sometimes inconsistent - bounce, Lara eschewed the low-percentage horizontal-bat shots: only 11 of his 120 runs were scored from cuts and pulls. Mostly he relied on drives and flicks - they accounted for 92 runs. Also, you'd normally expect Lara to attack part-time bowlers, but here he was most circumspect against the opener-turned-offspinner Virender Sehwag, whose 96 deliveries to Lara only cost 30 runs. Of all the Indian bowlers, Anil Kumble was the one against whom Lara scored the quickest, managing 32 from 69 balls.

This innings by Lara was his second-slowest score of 50 or more: the only instance of a slower innings was also against India, at Nagpur in 1994-95. The table below lists Lara's five slowest half-centuries and hundreds. Interestingly, three of them have come against India.

Lara's slowest innings of 50 or more
Against Runs/ Balls Strike Venue & year
India 50/ 135 37.03 Nagpur, 1994-95
India 120/ 307 39.08 St Lucia, 2006
Australia 52/ 121 42.97 Melbourne, 1992-93
South Africa 83/ 186 44.62 Barbados, 2000-01
India 55/ 123 44.71 Barbados, 2002

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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