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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 22:18 GMT 23:18 UK
Lara finally comes good
Fourth Test, Antigua (day one, stumps): West Indies 208-2 v England

BC Lara

Brian Lara hit a delightful half-century as the West Indies batsmen finally came good on the first day of the fourth Test against England.

With a deluge of rain in the middle of the day allowing only 52 overs to be bowled, Windies captain Lara hit 86 not out in a total of 208-2.

On a slow, predictable wicket the invitation was there for Lara and co to make big scores.

And they did not disappoint - Chris Gayle contributing a rapid 69.

West Indies won the toss and Lara had no hesitation in opting to bat first.

There was minimal encouragement for Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison early on although Gayle and Daren Ganga started in watchful fashion.

It required a bowling change to effect the first breakthrough as Andrew Flintoff struck after one hour's play. Ganga had moved watchfully to 10 when he was lbw, struck in front of off-stump.

By then, Gayle had struck a series of bold boundaries through the point and cover regions.

Lara, batting on the same pitch where he once flogged England's bowlers for 375 in a Test match, was untroubled after surviving a huge appeal for caught behind on nought off Harmison.

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff was glad to remove the stubborn opener Daren Ganga

Gayle began unleashing some pull shots shortly before his strange demise to Gareth Batty.

Batty was only playing due to an illness suffered by England's regular spinner Ashley Giles.

His fifth ball of the Test series caught a leading edge as Gayle looked to work the ball on the on-side and the Worcestershire man gleefully dived forward to take the catch off his own bowling.

Then came the long break for rain, and England were unable to take any further wickets when it stopped.

Lara played some fine shots off the back foot through point off Matthew Hoggard to get into his stride.

He reached his fifty with a sublime pull shot off Simon Jones. And later in his innings he played some deft cuts and sweeps off Batty.

Harmison, such a handful in the first three Tests, was less effective on a surface that proved much tougher for England's highly-rated seamers.

And Simon Jones really struggled to find any rhythm, his eight overs costing 57 runs.

Ramnaresh Sarwan played some scratchy shots in an innings of 41 not out, but kept one end up to add 110 runs with Lara for the third wicket.

West Indies: B Lara (capt), C Gayle, D Ganga, R Sarwan, D Smith, R Hinds, R Powell, R Jacobs (wkt), T Best, P Collins, F Edwards, C Collymore.

England: M E Trescothick, M P Vaughan (capt), M A Butcher, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, G Jones (wkt), G Batty, M J Hoggard, S P Jones, S J Harmison,


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