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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 June 2006, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Lara relief over 'lifeline' draw
Brian Lara
Lara was relieved to see his team escape with a draw
Brian Lara bade farewell to Antigua's Recreation Ground after seeing his West Indies side stave off the threat of defeat in the first Test against India.

Lara was out for a duck on the ground where he made world record scores of 375 and 400 not out against England.

But West Indies survived for a draw and he said: "We were given a lifeline going into the rest of the series.

"This ground has served me well, but it has also served West Indies cricket well, today especially."

The Recreation Ground will be replaced as Antigua's international cricket venue by the new Sir Viv Richards Stadium, which is being built in time for next year's Cricket World Cup.

But a healthy crowd was there for a thrilling final day which ended with the home side's last-wicket pair holding out to prevent India going 1-0 up in the four-match series.

"It was a great Test match, it ebbed and flowed," said Lara.

"It edged away from us on the fourth and fifth days, but I must commend the guys for showing a lot of character."

Dave Mohammed is bowled by Anil Kumble
India thought they had the game won when Dave Mohammed was bowled

Asked about his dismissal, lbw to seam bowler Sri Sreesanth, Lara added: "These things happen. You've got to take the good with the bad."

The result was frustrating for India, who have not won a series in the West Indies since 1971 and have never won a Test match anywhere in the Caribbean except Trinidad.

But skipper Rahul Dravid took a positive view of a game which saw his side fight back from a 130-run deficit on first innings with the help of opener Wasim Jaffer's 212.

"We had our backs to the wall with three days to go and made a great effort to be in the position we were in at the end.

"The wicket didn't deteriorate as badly as you would expect a fifth day wicket to. There was not much spin, but it had plenty of bounce. You needed to pitch the ball up and get batsmen to drive," he commented.

"I thought our young seamers bowled spells of high quality, real Test-class bowling, and Kumble was fantastic, plugging away to create pressure."

Dravid also praised Jaffer for the innings which won him the Man of the Match award.

"Some of the shots he played were tough to play on this pitch.

"Hopefully he will emerge consistent because he has all the tools to succeed at this level," he said.

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