Lara returns to rankings apogee while West Indies becomes an apology
Even as Brian Lara
reclaimed his #1 spot
in the official LG Test cricket rankings
, West Indies were thrashed by an innings and plenty at Barbados
. This means that South Africa have won the four test series with one more test remaining, at Antigua. South Africa came into this test 1-0 ahead after 2 tests
Chanderpaul won the toss yet again and opted to bat. The top order failed once again and it was left to Lara and Chanderpaul to re-enact what happened in the second test. The two added nearly 150 runs before Chanderpaul was out for 53. Meanwhile, Lara showed that he was in some amazing form, belting just about every bowler all around the ground. Only Andre Nel kept him quiet, relatively speaking. Lara was out for a superb 176 just before the close of play and West Indies lost Bravo shortly thereafter. The next morning, the tail folded hopelessly and West Indies were all out for 296, when they should really have scored well over 350 given the way Lara was batting. Nel ended up with 4/56 while Zondeki had 4/50.
South Africa then took their own sweet time to bat West Indies out of the game. Smith and de Villiers had a huge opening stand and West Indies were effectively gasping from then onwards. Smith was out for 103 while de Villiers went on to make 176. Dippenaar and Kallis rubbed it in with scores in the 70s. South Africa's tail fared marginally better than West Indies' and Smith declared with a lead of 252. Gayle took 3 wickets to rattle the middle-order while Powell's 3 wickets were all tail-enders.Andre Nel
then stepped up for South Africa, once again ripping through the top order. West Indies lost 3 wickets with the score on 17 and in spite of Lara and Chanderpaul trying to rescue things, they were bowled out for 166. Nel took 6/32 and that gives you an idea of how crappy the batting was.
West Indies have been criticized by several ex-cricketers and their media
and rightly so. Their batting has failed miserably, especially the top order. Lara and Chanderpaul have propped them up so often. Of course, the other way to look at this is that West Indies drew the game where Lara, Gayle and Sarwan did not play. So perhaps it was a mistake bringing them back!