32nd Test century inspires Lara to follow-on

Published: Thursday, June 15, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Gros Islet:Brian Lara was celebrating a return to form after his century in the second innings of the second Test against India saved the West Indies from defeat.

The batting superstar has indicated that his 120 in the drawn second Test at the Beausejour Cricket Ground has taught him a different side of his batting that he hopes to explore in the future.

"My batting is an attacking style, where I look to get out there and dominate, and I have set up more victories than I have saved matches, but this innings was different," Lara, Test cricket's highest scorer, told reporters.

"This innings taught me a lot about my batting. It has taught me that in the first innings of a Test match, I need to be in a similar mood.

"I need to consolidate and ensure that the team benefits from something long from me."

But the 37-year-old, who also holds the record for the highest individual innings in Test and first-class cricket, warned that his fellow West Indies batsmen also need to step up a gear ahead of the third Test with India.

The West Indies have been a little lucky to escape with draws from the first two Tests with a last wicket stand surviving the final 19 balls of the first Test in Antigua and the weather coming to their rescue in St Lucia.

"In the first Test in Antigua, we led India by 130 runs, but we needed to bat longer," he said.

"I went out there and got a six, got a few boundaries and I was out of it quite quickly, so I have learnt a lot out of this innings."

Lara, though, was relieved to still be level in the series.

"We are very buoyant that we are still level and no side has drawn blood in this series, so we are looking forward to the next 10 days of cricket," he said.

Now he is looking forward to playing on better batting surfaces in St Kitts and Jamaica, to negate the punishing effect of India's superior spin bowlers.

"We need to play good Test cricket, and in this particular Test, after two days, the pitch was dusting already, the spinners were in their glory, and we could not score very easily," said Lara.

India captain Rahul Dravid said his side will take a lot of heart from the way they played in the Test.

"It was essentially a four-day Test, and had we not lost the 90 overs on the fourth day, we would have had a good chance to win it," he said.

"We can take a lot of confidence from this Test match. What I have been telling the boys is that if we play good cricket, we will win Test matches," he added.

He was also pleased to dispel the country's away-day blues that have blighted their touring parties in the past.

"We have a reputation of being very poor travellers, and we have not done very well abroad.

"What we have shown in these two Test matches is that we can play well abroad and this is the focus - we are looking to play good cricket."

The third Test - the first to be staged at Basseterre - will be contested from June 22 to 26, before the series concludes at Kingston from June 30 to July 4.

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