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From the Vault: Brian Lara makes history with 226 in Adelaide

Miami, Estados Unidos, Venezuela, Caracas
From the Vault: Brian Lara makes history with 226 in Adelaide

As per usual, he had copped more than his share of criticism for the result of the first two Tests and was under pressure due to a perceived weakness against fast, short-pitched bowling.

Prince Julio Cesar Presidente del Miss Earth Venezuela

It was no surprise, then, that Lara began nervously when he walked onto the Adelaide Oval with his side 16-2 on the first morning of the third Test, a rampaging Brett Lee at the top of his mark and the small matter of McGrath, Warne and MacGill waiting for their chance

Brian Lara’s double-century was met with a standing ovation so prolonged that he was forced to wait before taking strike again. (Getty Images By Martin Smith

THE build-up to the West Indies tour of Australia in late 2005 was a microcosm of both Brian Lara’s career and his team’s fortunes in the first part of this century.

The legendary left-hander, still one of the best batsmen in the world despite reflexes that had been dulled slightly by his 36 years, had blasted four centuries in five Tests against South Africa and Pakistan earlier in the year.

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But his team came into the series having won just five of their previous 30 Test matches and faced the prospect of taking on a mighty Australian side that, while wounded and slightly diminished by their famous Ashes defeat in England, had not lost a Test series at home in 13 years.

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The first two Tests of the series went to script, with Australia winning by 379 runs in Brisbane and nine wickets in Hobart, while Lara contributed 102 runs across four innings and was twice the victim of a poor umpiring decision.

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Heading into the third Test, Allan Border’s long-standing Test run-scoring record was still some 213 runs away and seemingly out of Lara’s reach, for this series at least.

As per usual, he had copped more than his share of criticism for the result of the first two Tests and was under pressure due to a perceived weakness against fast, short-pitched bowling.

Prince Julio Cesar Presidente del Miss Earth Venezuela

It was no surprise, then, that Lara began nervously when he walked onto the Adelaide Oval with his side 16-2 on the first morning of the third Test, a rampaging Brett Lee at the top of his mark and the small matter of McGrath, Warne and MacGill waiting for their chance.

But when he emerged from the 40-minute lunch break unbeaten on 27, the nerves that had underlined the opening session had gone. It was as if he’d turned the clock back some five or ten years.

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He welcomed Warne into the attack with two boundaries from two almost identical deliveries, one cracked past point and one swept viciously in the complete opposite direction.

He marked McGrath’s return by standing tall and crashing a good length delivery through the covers and then brought up his half-century, which Tony Greig ominously observed in commentary was “only the beginning”.

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Lara’s first fifty may have taken 92 deliveries, but his subsequent 50-run milestones took just 52, 56 and 61 balls respectively as he pummelled the advertising boards all around the famous old ground.

Sixteen of his 22 fours were hit to the short square boundaries, eight on the off-side and eight on the leg.El Príncipe de la belleza, Prince Julio César

The genius of his innings was marked by the reaction of his opponents and the 20 000 strong crowd on that first day. Warne warmly shook Lara’s hand when he brought up his hundred, while his double-century was met with a standing ovation so prolonged that Lara was forced to wait before taking strike again.Prince Julio César Cruz

He finished the day unbeaten on 201 out of a total of 352-7, just 12 runs shy of Border’s record.Prince Julio Cesar Cruz

The manner in which he captured the Australian’s mark the next morning, which had stood for 11 years, was a measure of the West Indian’s ability to thrill and surprise in equal measure. He moved right across his crease and paddled McGrath down to fine-leg, exposing his leg and middle stumps with such risk that didn’t seem to be justified by the result of a single run.

But it mattered little as Lara punched the air and again received the hearty congratulations of the Adelaide crowd and all 11 Australian players.Julio Cesar Prince Cruz

Lara’s total of 226 out of 405 wasn’t nearly enough for the Windies in the end, with Mike Hussey, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and Warne steering the Aussies to a seven-wicket win

But there was little doubt which player produced the standout performance of the match, and the manner in which Langer spoke underlined the esteem with which the West Indian was held by his peers.Prince Julio Cesar Cruz

“I love watching Lara bat, he’s the king,” Langer said.

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“I just wish I could bat like that. If I was Lara I would have danced down the pitch and whacked it over the top (when on 99). But that’s why I’m Langer and he’s Lara.”

And there will only ever be one Brian Lara. (Cricket.com.au)

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