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On This Day - March 14, 1999 - When Lara Made The Great Australians Kneel To His Batting

Brian Lara was in the form of his life in the Frank Worrell Trophy against the mighty Australians in the Caribbean in 1999. Against all odds, adversity and under pressure, he smashed three hundreds in a row and stunned the opposition and the cricketing world with his sheer genius.

On This Day - March 14, 1999 - When Lara Made The Great Australians Kneel To His Batting

The Frank Worrell Trophy, 1999

West Indies had been humiliated and suffered their first five-Test series whitewash in history in South Africa. West Indies cricket was at an all-time low after a payment dispute between the management and the players. Brian Lara, the West Indian captain was making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. There were doubts over Lara’s leadership and he was blamed for the lack of unity in the team.

West Indies were clobbered by a massive 312 runs in the opening Test at Port of Spain and were bowled out for 51 in the second innings – their lowest Test score till then in history! Lara had not registered a Test hundred in the last 14 Tests he had batted. He averaged just 35.42 in this period registering only 7 fifties in 27 innings. Time was running out for the great left-hander. There was pressure from fans, cricketing pundits, the West Indies cricket board – everyone was gunning for his head.

What followed for the next few weeks is the stuff of legends!

Second Test: March 13-16, Sabina Park, Jamaica:

Steve Waugh won the toss and elected to bat first. Australia posted 256 in the first innings with Waugh scoring a fighting hundred from number 5. Courtney Walsh picked 4 wickets while Pedro Collins bagged 3. West Indies were in early trouble and skipper Brian Lara came out to bat at 5 for 2 in the fifth over. Sherwin Campbell’s dismissal a few overs later made it 17 for 3. McGrath was in red-hot form and reduced the home team to 37 for 4 at close of play on Day 1. Lara was still at the crease – the only hope of the West Indies. There was monumental pressure on him to perform. The stakes were high, very high. West Indies could not afford another batting disaster.

Jimmy Adams joined Lara early on Day 2, the 14th of March, 1999.

What followed stunned the Australians and the cricketing world!

Lara took control. He took Warne to the cleaners, then launched into MacGill. His confidence drew – the pulls, hooks and exquisite cover drives followed. There was a pitch invasion and then a thunderous uproar when the third umpire turned down a run-out appeal with Lara on 99. It was a magical hundred. Whatever the Australians threw at him, including some verbal rants, Lara countered it with a greater force with the bat.

He smashed Blewett for four consecutive boundaries and hit a majestic on-drive off Warne to complete his double ton – there was another crowd invasion and Lara had to sprint to the dressing room to escape the delirious crowd. There was absolute frenzy at Sabina Park. The great Australian attack comprising McGrath, Gillespie, Warne and MacGill went wicketless on the day. Lara was finally dismissed on Day 3 for 213 in 344 balls after putting together 322 for the fifth-wicket with Adams (94).West Indies had amassed 431.

An inspired West Indies team skittled Australia for 177. West Indies won by 10 wickets. It was one of the greatest comeback victories in Test cricket history.

Lara scored almost 50% of the total runs scored by the West Indies in the match. His innings was the HIGHEST IMPACT BATTING PERFORMANCE in West Indies cricketing history. His Batting Impact in this match was higher than the collective Impact in his last six Test matches.

This performance elevated the entire dressing room and the West Indies gave an inspiring performance for the rest of the series. For those few weeks, Lara took his game to a level seldom witnessed in Test cricket history. He was on a different planet.

West Indies came from behind and despite a first innings deficit of 161, chased down 311 in the fourth innings to take a 2-1 lead in the series by winning the third Test at Barbados. And once again it was that man who was their hero – Brian Charles Lara! He came into bat at 78 for 3 in the second innings which soon worsened to 91-4 and 105-5. Once again he found an able partner in Adams and the pair put together 133 for the sixth-wicket.

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In what would go down as probably the greatest finish in Test history, Lara single-handedly batting with the lower order and tail took West Indies to a sensational one-wicket victory. He put together 54 for the ninth wicket with Ambrose and remained unbeaten on 153.

His innings was rated by Wisden as the second-greatest Test innings of all-time.

Lara went on to smash his third hundred of the series in the fourth Test at Antigua – a scintillating 100 off just 84 deliveries including 15 fours and 3 sixes, albeit in a losing cause as Australia managed to draw level the series 2-2. Lara aggregated 546 runs in the series at an average of 91. His ability to rise to the occasion against all odds and adversity and produce two of the top three highest impact performances in West Indian cricket history in successive matches in one series was a testimony of his greatness.

He captured the minds and hearts and the imagination of the entire cricketing world in the 26 days from the second to the fourth Tests.

It all started with that scintillating double hundred at Kingston, Jamaica on the 14th of March, 1999!

He had silenced his critics and how!

Team Rankings

1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking