SK Flashback: A thriller for Lara’s farewell at World Cup 2007
Neither West Indies nor England had a chance to qualify for the semi-finals at the 2007 World Cup, but it was Brian Lara’s farewell. So for the first time in the tournament, there was a sell-out crowd.
It was, however, not the fairy-tale sendoff that the multitude had hoped to see. For though there was a thrilling penultimate-ball result by a razor-thin one-wicket margin, the West Indies lost, and Lara’s promising innings was cut short by a tragic run out.
Chris Gayle provided the fireworks as he raced to his fifty off a mere 29 balls. He smashed 10 fours and 3 sixes in his 79 off just 58 deliveries.
Devon Smith, the diminutive left-hander from Grenada, helped post 131 runs in their opening stand in only 23.5 overs. Gayle’s departure saw Lara walking in to a gracious guard of honour from the England team.
He looked in superb touch and was determined to play one last memorable innings. A vintage square-drive had the crowd on its feet. He had stroked 3 fours in his 18 off 17 balls when Marlon Samuels pushed one to mid-on and called for a sharp single, then changed his mind.
Kevin Pietersen’s smart direct hit found the legend short of the crease. The standing ovation ceased much after he disappeared into the pavilion.
As if to atone for this sacrilege, Samuels smashed 51 off a mere 39 deliveries with six hits to the ropes and one over it. His fifth-wicket partnership with Shivnarine Chanderpaul realized 77 runs in a matter of 9.3 overs.
A couple of run outs in the last over meant that the West Indies were bowled out for 300 with one delivery remaining. Skipper Michael Vaughan took three wickets for 39 off 10 overs with his gentle off-breaks.
Vaughan then carved out a superb innings of his own. He was the dominant partner in a defining second-wicket stand of 90 in 13 overs with Ravi Bopara. His partnership with Pietersen realized 53 in 11 overs.
When Dwayne Bravo inflicted the second of his run outs, Vaughan had already set his side on the high road to victory. He stroked a classy 79 off 68 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes.
Pietersen then took charge as only he could, striking the ball belligerently and innovating audaciously. But wickets began to tumble.
Parity was restored when Paul Nixon joined Pietersen. They smashed 80 in 10-and-a-half overs for the seventh wicket. Pietersen reached his century off 90 deliveries but was bowled next ball by Jerome Taylor. He had smashed 10 fours and a six.
The match swung yet again. With 29 to get off three overs with two wickets left, it seemed that Lara would bid a victorious goodbye. Nixon then hit 3 fours off four Corey Collymore deliveries. The fifth was short and went screaming for four byes.
Nixon took a single off the last ball. A run per ball was required off the last two overs. The penultimate over yielded 8 runs.
Lara brought on the canny Bravo. Nixon was bowled off the second delivery with three still to get and the last pair in. Two deliveries yielded one run.
Stuart Broad hit the fifth over cover to bring up a heart-stopping win.
Feted at the post-match presentation, Lara’s last words to the Kensington Oval crowd were, “Did I entertain?”. The “Yes” in unison was heard by billions around the globe.
West Indies: 300 all out (49.5 overs), England: 301 for 9 wickets (49.5 overs) (CWC 2007)
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