Brian Lara

To achieve a feat amid overwhelming odds is inspiring and something that often becomes trailblazing. This logic holds true more so in sports. Over the course of his glowing career, where he broke countless batting records, Brian Lara was a trailblazer who commanded the pitch with ostentatious style and fashion.

Not a batsman who did not flounder. Not someone who did not let himself down; it’s the great leaps Brian Lara took often with his back pushed to the wall that made his legend soar.

He was special. Perhaps fair to say that the Lara factor was down to a lethal combination of two distinct aspects of his game. Whilst being blessed with tremendous batting skills, he also had great mental strength to thrive in the game.

And the world saw peak Lara magic on this very day, i.e., February 9, 2003 and that too in the coveted World Cup that reinstated the Brian Lara-legend.

The left-hander had scored a valuable century against Kenya in the 2002 ICC Champions trophy in Sri Lanka, but soon after the game he suffered a mystery illness, which kept him out of the game for some time. There was speculation that he won’t make it to the world cup in South Africa. But the prince was eager to come back and just before the start of tournament, he expressed his desire to ace the charts of batting rakings.

He always loved a challenge and the stage was set for him when West Indians lost two quick wickets for nothing against hosts Proteas in the inaugural match of the tournament. He got a life off the first ball he faced from speedster Makhya Ntini. But from there on, he didn’t look back.

The pressure was huge and South Africans weren’t giving any freebies to him but he stuck to the task along with Chanderpaul and they both forged a good partnership to stabilize the innings. His innings flourished later on and he got able support from his then-skipper Carl Hopper. Together, they took West Indies to a position from where the likes of Ricardo Powell and Sarwan cut loose. It would all fall as per plans as both youngsters played some big shots to help their team post a formidable 278 on the board.

But this mighty recovery, the comeback of sorts with the bat and inevitably, the winning score couldn’t have happened had Brian Lara not bounced back in familiar pomp. Had he not shown great mental strength, such a great ally of the ‘Prince.’

One reckons, only Brian Lara could have pulled off such performances; the man didn’t play any cricket for five months and here you go- right in the world cup opener, with his team in dire straits, he produced a gem to rescue the side.

He dominated both pace and spin and played some audacious strokes against his old foe Allan Donald. His flick of the wrist of Lance Klusener delivery, which went for six was the highlight of his remarkable century.

He was eventually dismissed for match winning 116 of 134 deliveries and the whole stadium gave him a standing ovation. Wasn’t this always on the cards given the Lara magic had made Cape Town his? Though, it must be said later on, some slackness and sloppiness by the Windies fielders gave the dangerous Klusener the chance to spoil Lara’s party but the men from the Caribbean eventually won the match by three runs.

We have seen batsmen coming back on track after a lean phase but not in the manner and style of the Trinidadian stylist. Throughout the course of his remarkable career, he played several inspiring knocks, but arriving to the top drawer of batsmanship during Cricket’s magnum opus, much like his 111 (also against the same opponent) in the Wills 1996 World Cup, Brian Lara proved once again just why was he so special.


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