KP Spoils Lara's Day
Or better put, Marlon Samuels
spoiled Lara's day.
In front of the largest crowd of the World Cup so far, Chris Gayle
and Devon Smith
, gave the West Indies a solid platform. They put on 131 for the first wicket, with Gayle, who seemed out of sorts at the start of his innings, finding his form to make a brisk 79 off 58 balls. Smith played fairly well for his 61, but too often failed to give the strike back to the dashing Gayle and consumed all of 106 deliveries.
At the fall of Gayle's wicket, caught at third man, the crowd called out for Lara, and he came out to thunderous applause. The England players saluted Lara by forming a guard of honour as he walked out to the middle for the final time in his international career. Lara played well for his 18 runs, tantalising his spellbound audience with three fours. After Smith fell to a brilliant Paul Collingwood
catch, Samuels joined Lara at the crease. And then the unthinkable. Samuels hit a delivery down to mid on and called Lara for a run that was never on. When Samuels stopped and finally realised that the run was not on, it was too late for Lara as Kevin Pietersen
swooped in and hit the wicket as Lara desperately tried in vain to make it back. Samuels went on to make a superb 51 off 39 deliveries, but gave it away when he hit a Michael Vaughan
delivery straight to mid on's lap.
The West Indies eventually made 300 all out in 49.5 overs, but they should have had at least about 20 - 30 more. Especially when the Windies were well placed at 250/4 after 40 overs. The Windies' futility in the last 10 overs is highlighted by the fact that of the 50 runs they scored in this period, 10 came by Jerome Taylor
off one Flintoff over. In fact, they lost 6 wickets for 42 runs within the last 8 overs.
On the true Kensington pitch, 300 was very gettable and England made the Windies pay for their ineptitude at the end of their innings. England started positively as Vaughan (79) and Ravi Bopara
(26) batting at number 3, took England to 101 in the 16th over. Dwayne Bravo
then took over in the field as after several missed attempts, he finally hit the stumps to run out Bopara. He repeated the trick and ran out Vaughan at 154/3. When Jamie Dalrymple
suicidally ran himself out at 189/6 in the 36th over it looked like the Windies would send Lara off with a win.
But that was not to be as a splendid 90 ball 100 by Pietersen and a dogged 38 by keeper Paul Nixon
carried England to 269 in the 47th over. Pietersen brought up his ton with a massive six off Taylor's first delivery in the 47th over. But Taylor soon had his revenge as he uprooted KP's leg stump with his very next delivery. Pietersen tried to repeat the shot but missed the ball completely. It again seemed for Windies fans that the game had been won when three balls later, Liam Plunkett
picked out a fielder in the deep.
England's task of getting 30 from the final three overs with only 2 wickets left, seemed steep. However Collymore failed to bowl full and straight in the 48th over and paid the price as Nixon plundered 3 fours. England were gifted a fourth boundary in the over when keeper Randin could only parry a Collymore bouncer over his head and down to the boundary rope. England only needed 4 from the final over, but a Bravo slower ball gave the Windies some hope as he comprehensively bowled Nixon, leaving bowlers Stuart Broad
and James Anderson
to get 3 off 4 balls. Broad was up to the challenge and hit the winning runs over Lara's head. It was ironic that on Lara's day, he had to run after the ball as the batsmen scored the winning runs. England had won by 1 wicket with only 1 ball left. Full credit to England as both sides fought valiantly for whatever pride was at stake. Lara probably missed a trick though, as with Samuels off the field for much of the England innings, he only bowled Gayle and Sarwan (1/21 off 5 overs) for a combined 10 overs. Pacers on both sides struggled throughout the match and Vaughan's offspin (3/39 from 10) earlier in the day demonstrated that taking the pace off the ball was the way to go on this Kensington pitch. Did I entertain?
In the on-field interview, when asked what would be his final words to his fans, Lara asked the crowd "Did I entertain?" and was greeted with rapturous approval. Lara then jogged around the outfield and hopped the advertising boards to get closer to his fans. We will miss you, Brian Charles Lara
. We will miss those thunderous cover drives and those deft late cuts. We will miss the high back lift and the one-legged pulls that you made famous. We will miss your genius and yes, you did entertain.
(Cross-posted from Rain, No Play
Labels: 2007 world cup, england, lara, pietersen, west indies, world cup