A model of restraint
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.
|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.