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    April 13, 2005

    South Africa win at Trinidad and take the lead against West Indies

    West Indies collapsed horribly for 194 in their second innings, thus setting South Africa a target of 144, which they went past easily to win the second test at Trinidad. The first one at Guyana was drawn.

    Chanderpaul won the toss and elected to bat and when the score was 13/2 he must have been wondering about why he was saddled with the job in the first place. Enter Brian Lara, the man he replaced as captain. Brian, at his brilliant best, made it appear as though he was never really away from the game as he thrashed the bowling all around the ground. racing to his 50 off just 75 balls.

    It certainly does seem like he needs some sort of crisis to fire himself up, for most of his great knocks have come at a time when either the crisis was of his own making or when others had screwed up. All out for 51? Ok, take this: 213, 153 and an 84-ball 100. West Indies 3-0 down and looking at a whitewash? Ok, would you mind if I scored a quadruple century? Murali causing havoc? Here, take 688 runs in 3 tests, with a lowest score of 40. I'm fairly sure there're quite a few other instances.

    In any case, returning to the test match we were talking about, Hinds gave Lara support for a while, as did Chanderpaul. Lara got to his 27th test century, beating Sobers' previous West Indian record of 26. Enroute, he also went past Sunil Gavaskar's run aggregate and is now in third place. The race between him and Tendulkar will be as watchable as the one between Warne and Murali. West Indies ended the first day on 281/6 with Lara not out on 159 and the tail for company. The next morning, even as Ntini and Nel were cleaning up the tail, Lara marched on towards his double century. But a superb delivery from Nel squared him up completely and flicked the off-bail on its route to the keeper, ending Lara's knock on 196. Ntini ended up with 6 wickets.

    South Africa's reply was typically unentertaining, but they had a good opening stand between Smith and de Villiers. Smith got past 3000 test runs and reached his fifty off 126 deliveries. Kallis' dismissal in the last over of the second day was a crucial strike for West Indies. He was out for 39 painstaking runs. The next day, Smith carried on from where he left off, to reach his 9th test century even as nightwatchman Zondeki hung around for a while, frustrating the West Indians. South Africa were then helped by a couple of useful partnerships, between Gibbs & Prince and Prince & Boucher and ended the third day on 370/6. They would have hoped for a lead of around 150 but Gayle blew away the tail, pun intended, giving South Africa a lead of only 51.

    West Indies' second innings was a total disaster. They first lost too many wickets to the new ball and then couldnt put together any decent partnerships. Hinds and Sarwan put on 65 but once that stand was broken, the middle order caved in, Lara & Chanderpaul included. The talented Dwayne Bravo hung around with Sarwan until stumps on the fourth day with Sarwan not out on 93. The next day, nothing went right for West Indies, except perhaps Sarwan reaching his 7th test hundred. The tail did not contribute much as Ntini helped himself to a 7 wicket haul, giving him match figures of 13/132, the best ever for South Africa.

    South Africa had to only ensure that they did not lose early wickets and they did so thanks to some largesse from the West Indian bowlers and fielders, who bowled wicket taking no-balls and dropped catches. Batting must have been so easy for South Africa, for they scored at the unimaginable rate of 3.2 runs an over. Ntini was the obvious choice for man of the match. The next test is at Barbados.
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 6:00 PM |
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