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Hooper applauds 'class' Lara
Carl Hooper and Brian Lara
Hooper and Lara put on 89 runs together for the fourth wicket
Jubilant skipper Carl Hooper said Brian Lara reminded the world of his undoubted class with a match-winning century in the opening game of the World Cup.

Lara had not played any international cricket since falling ill in the ICC Champions Trophy in September last year.

But the left-hander belied his absence from the game to earn man-of-the-match honours in a pulsating affair.

"Brian showed what a world class player he is," Hooper said.

Batting first, West Indies looked badly out of sorts as they limped to 30 for two after 16 overs.

I want to play with a side that wants to win and these youngsters want to to win
Brian Lara

And Lara was dropped first ball before settling into stride and playing a classic one-day knock.

"The first 10-15 overs was tough but then Brian came in and showed what a tremendous player he is," Hooper said.

West Indies, meanwhile, intended to stick with their policy of using only three pace bowlers each game during their World Cup campaign.

It was a gamble that came close to back-firing against South Africa, with Hooper bowling a full quota of 11 overs for figures of two for 60, behind quicks Merv Dillon, Pedro Collins and Vasbert Drakes.

Chris Gayle was also called on for 10 overs, accounting for the crucial wickets of Mark Boucher for 49 and home skipper Shaun Pollock shortly afterwards.

But a solid performance was ruined by two overs in which he was hit for 28 runs.

Tailender Lance Klusener smashed three sixes off a single over from the left-armer, to keep South Africa in the chase until the final over.

"The system has been working well in India and Bangladesh with three front-line quicks and myself and Gayle so we┐ll continue to use it," said Hooper.

"Chris┐s overs towards the end went for a lot but hopefully you saw the six that went for 20 odd."

However, Hooper conceded that the one exception to his rule could be West Indies┐ next group match, against New Zealand on Thursday.

Victory there would almost certainly see the 1975 and ┐79 champions through to the second round.

"If we go to Port Elizabeth and find a green seamer then we might consider an extra quick," he said.

Nixon McLean, who has played South African provincial cricket for Gauteng, and youngster Jermaine Lawson are also in the 15-man squad.



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