Home CRICKET Brian Lara’s eight strokes of class that lit up Raipur

Brian Lara’s eight strokes of class that lit up Raipur

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Brian Lara
Picture Source: Twitter

There is hardly a better joy in life than watching a free-flowing Brian Lara at the crease. Two months short of turning 52, his panache with the willow can take you off chores and get you hooked to the edge of the seat.

Cricket fans were treated to a throwback to the yesteryears on Saturday as Brian Lara strode out to bat for the West Indies. This time though, it was West Indies Legends (WIL). And not for the first time did he carry his bat for them.

Like always, Lara’s presence at the greens drew people to the stands. And Raipur was no different.

“I am here to watch Lara bat. Nothing else matters. I would stay awake during schools to watch him bat in West Indies, and I can’t thank the organisers enough to have him play here,” said Satish (name changed on request as he was supposed to be at a wedding reception), who travelled to Raipur from Bhilai.

I can understand Satish’s emotions. My reasons to be in Raipur from Mumbai aren’t too distant.

Seeing my Instagram story of Lara’s batting, a friend, who works and lives in the United States, reached out to me, texting: “The artist is at work? How do I watch this?”

The 90s kid dwells within us, and we can travel any distance to turn the clock back. How we wish the vehicle could be a time machine.

Also Read: “The little master who stood tall” – 50 years of Sunil Gavaskar

The likes of Satish were up for a visual treat, live. Whereas, the millions like my friend and others re-lived the nostalgia through broadcast.

In the sixth match of the Road Safety World Series hosted at Raipur, WIL lost a wicket to run out in the third over against the Sri Lanka Legends (SLL). Amid the ‘Lara’ chants walked out the skipper, a magician who would mesmerise fans to dropping jaws in his heydays.

Brian Lara would anchor the West Indian innings, looking comfortable against Sri Lankan bowlers, all of whom are much younger than him.

Brian Lara’s eight delightful boundaries

After three dots off Nuwan Kulasekara in the third over, Lara unleashed the straight drive to a fuller ball that rocketed past the bowler to the ropes in no time.

Dhammika Prasad made his Test debut almost two years after Lara played his last Test. In the fifth over, the 37-year-old Sri Lankan pacer erred in length, and Lara flicked it through backward square-leg for a four. The bowler immediately rectified his length and tried to york Lara, but the master’s bat speed won the race as he whipped it through mid-wicket for another boundary. Lara had raced to the double digits.

WIL were reduced to 38 for 2 after the powerplay, and in a bid to rebuild the innings, Lara was happy to play second fiddle to Dwayne Smith.

In the final ball of the ninth over from the wily Rangana Herath, Lara exhibited his classic off-side play by moving deep into the crease and cutting the ball past short thirdman for another boundary.

Smith fell after a quick 47, and it was time for Lara to step up. Off the bowling of Chinthaka Jayasinghe, Lara let out a trademark square-cut through backward point for a four and swept the next ball over short fine-leg for the same result.

Brian Lara

 

Lara belonged to a pre-T20 era, but even his creativity syncs well with the flair.

Wickets tumbled at one end. Then there was the scoreboard pressure. Lara was tiring a little. You can’t blame a 51-year-old for that. He didn’t give it up and instead focused on using the pace of the bowlers. In the 18th over, Lara comfortably placed a slower ball from Kulasekara down the legs for a boundary.

The innings’ final ball brought up the Trinidadian magician’s milestone moment when he carved Kulasekara through the extra cover for a boundary.

Lara’s 49-ball 53 not out helped WIL to 157 for 4.

Later in the evening, the trademark Dilshan strokes, including the dilscoop and elegant drives from Tharanga, helped SLL seal the thrilling encounter.

But Lara had won over the minds and, of course, the hearts as always. That back-lift continues freezing the moment, and then the forward lean fools us all into believing something but actually opens up a wide range of possibilities for the ball’s travel-path.

So much time. So much grace. An artist with the wood, thank you, Brian Lara, for painting the runs and memories.

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