Brian Lara 153* against Australia, 1999

Well, West Indies lost not one, not two but a humiliating five Tests in a row in South Africa before the series against Australia. The Aussies were by far the best team at that moment in 1999. It was indeed a very tough task to beat the Aussies even away from their backyard. Now, Brian Lara and his troops came to the Caribbean Islands after the humiliating whitewash at South Africa.

The first Test started off with the Australians adding fuel to the West Indies’s humiliation. West Indies was defeated by a margin of over 300 runs with the Windies bowled out for 51 in its second innings. It was very certain that the Aussies would rip apart the Windies quite comfortably. The West Indies captain, Brian Charles Lara, being one of the best players at that time, was on the verge of getting sacked from captaincy as well as a batsman.

But they say winners always perform during crunch clashes and boy, did Lara show his class in the second Test at Jamaica. He scored an imperious double ton at Jamaica to square the series 1-1. After being in the scrutiny for so long, Lara managed to save the Windies from another humiliation as well as his own career. Now, we will go back to the famous third Test at Barbados against Australia.

Third Test, West Indies vs Australia at Barbados in 1999

Australian players were playing at their peak form in the first innings against the Windies scoring a massive 490 runs, with the Aussie captain, Steve Waugh, one short of an incredible double century and Ricky Ponting scoring a fantastic 104. West Indies were put under tremendous pressure against the Aussies.

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West Indies scored a decent score of 329 thanks to a fantastic century by Sherwin Campbell. But still the Windies was behind by a massive margin of 161 runs. However, Courtney Walsh spoiled the Australian party by taking a fifer which saw the Aussies bowled out for a mere total of 146 leaving the Windies a target of 308.

308 was a pretty easy task to defend for the Australian bowling lineup consisting of McGrath, Warne, Gillespie and MacGill. And only one man stood in between them and victory, Brian Lara. Things looked easier for the Aussies when Windies was reeling at 78/3 and Lara walked in. The score soon became 105/5 when Jimmy Adams came out to bat to join Lara.

Lara was in batting in full flow, toiling the bowlers with some beautiful cover drives. He looked dominant at one end while at the other end, Jimmy Adams was extremely solid and stood like a rock.

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Lara was placing the balls extremely well throughout his innings. He gave even one of the best in the business, Steve Waugh, a real headache in placing the fields. Shane Warne was taken to the cleaners by Lara. It was a real fairytale story for the Windies as they were marching past this mighty Aussie team all by the incredible talent of their captain. In 169 balls, the West Indies captain reached to a fine century. 

Mark Nicholas aptly defining Lara’s stroke play at that moment said:

It was like Brian went to the wicket and didn’t study where the fielders were, but he studied where the gaps were.

Jimmy Adams looked very slow, but very steady. West Indies was now in full control in the run chase with Lara in full swing scoring 238/5. But Glenn McGrath had other plans, he scalped the wickets of Jimmy Adams, Ridley Jacobs and Nehemiah Perry in quick succession. Windies was now at 248/8. It now could be said that Lara was the only obstacle between Australia and victory. With 60 runs required, Lara had to keep most of the strike with him as Ambrose, who was at the other end, was not much of a batsman.

Even Shane Warne couldn’t stop Lara from scoring. Lara now boosted the scoring, and as said before he nudged the ball perfectly through the vacant gaps.

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Ambrose gave Lara great support by defending the balls at the other end. At 302/8, Ambrose got out to Gillespie with 6 runs still needed. Australia was closer to victory than West Indies was. In walked, Courtney Walsh, a player who got out for lots of golden ducks before this match. It was expected to be a walk in the park for the bowlers to take Walsh’s wicket. But he surprised everyone by leaving some good balls against McGrath. And now, Walsh tied the score and Lara managed to hit a four to bag the victory!


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The other point to be highlighted about this knock was that Lara batted extremely well with the tail enders.

West Indies pulled off an inspirational comeback from a situation where they looked down and out, and it was all thanks to the one and only, Brian Lara whose performances were being scrutinized for the past few months.

No wonder Wisden had opted for this knock as the second-best Test knock only next to Sir Don’s 270.

This game showed that Lara was one of the game’s greatest match winners.


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