What Is The Significance Of March 27, 2007 To Brian Lara?

Right throughout the famously nostalgic nineties up until the 2000’s, the Australians were considered the mighty forces of world cricket. There were strong teams. There were exceedingly competitive sides, but you could say Australia stood on a different pedestal of sorts; one that wasn’t perhaps made for others around it.

Possessing one bright matchwinner after another, thanks to talents like the great Waugh brothers (Mark and Steve), the charismatic Shane Warne, the powerful Matt Hayden, the ebullient Ricky Ponting and the master seamer, Glenn McGrath, Australia usually extended an olive branch to their opponents.

It wasn’t a matter of if, but when you’d be beaten by the mighty Australian cricket team. One simply dreaded facing them; it wasn’t really a gala occasion to celebrate cricket where it came to squaring up against the Kangaroos.

But back in those days, a certain Brian Lara relished the opportunity of locking horns against the invincible Aussies. It could be argued that, he quite simply, raised his game by a few notches when confronting the Australians.

The formats, when facing the Aussies changed, from Tests to ODI’s, but what didn’t was Brian Lara’s finesse and flamboyance.

The famous, groundbreaking left-hander became a carnivore, a hunter, a punisher of the Australians as one noted back in those halcyon days; a period of time that one really misses given the contemporary standing of the sport that’s buzzed by too much cricket all throughout the year.

It could be argued that the sheer stature of the Australian cricketing team and its near unshakability raised the bar in Brian Lara’s game and fuelled his appetite. Which is why some of the most famous knocks by the Prince of Trinidad, such as the 213 in that Jamaica Test, the 226 in Adelaide or that defiant 116 at the SCG came against the mercurial Australian side.

As a matter of fact when Lara scored an unbeaten, hairraising 153 (not out) at Barbados in the famous 1998-99 series back in the day, it was Australia that ended up on the wrong side of the result.

Wisden described it as one of the greatest innings ever played by an individual in Test match cricket. Mark Waugh called it the ‘single most influential’ inning he ever came to see live on a cricket ground. Interestingly, he was a part of that contest that Lara won on sheer might and wizardry.

But of the many dates that are so essential in Brian Lara’s career, there’s one in particular that the intrepid Caribbean fan may never forget in times to come.

And as a matter of fact, it is today- i.e., March 27. But, it dates back to 2007, a period of time when World Cricket’s biggest extravaganza was on: the ODI world cup.

Though, more importantly what makes March 27, 2007 even more important from a Brian Lara perspective is that it would be the last time ever that the Port of Spain born batter would face Australia; that occasion being the big World Cup stage, the contest held in the Caribbean.

Yet despite playing a World Cup on home turf, which truth be told is every cricketer’s dream, it wouldn’t turn out to be a memorable outing for the great Brian Lara. While he was still the captain of his side on that occasion, Lara’s unit was marginally impressive and lost critical contests to more potent outfits in the all important ODI World Cup that year.

Yet, Brian Lara reserved a piece of true artistry as only he could as he came to face the daunting Aussies fifteen years ago on March 27.

Batting first, the Ricky Ponting led Australian side compiled a huge score of 322. They were anchored by the big hitting Matt Hayden, who would strike a mighty impressive 158 taking very few deliveries to notch up yet another hundred. The presence of big hitting Symonds and Clarke only added more bite to the lanky Aussie line-up.

A rare occasion where Gilly didn’t come to the party.

In reply, the West Indies, one sadly notes, were only able to reach a pretty modest 219 on the board. Though in reality, even that score may not have been possible had it not been down to Brian Lara’s last hurrah against the Australians, which resulted in 77 free flowing runs that came off merely 83 deliveries.

Scoring eight fluent boundaries and hitting a towering six, Lara was the lone warrior, a sight that the Caribbean fan had commonly spotted on so many other occasions as well where the rest of the batters quite simply quivered with doubt.

What stood out besides the usually glowing footwork and some creme da la creme hitting square on the off side was a rather telling statistic.

Despite being packed with exciting talents, whilst Lara single handedly compiled 77 on his own, the rest, including Sarwan, Samuels, Gayle and Chanderpaul accounted for 41.

Can you dig that?

Ponting threw everything at the Prince; he got Nathan Bracken to challenge Lara. He brought on Shane Watson, got Hogg and McGrath attack in tandem. Punter even got Shaun Tait to force Lara into a state of oblivion but to no avail.

Realising well that someone in the Windies side had to put his hands up, Brian Lara decided to wage a solo assault that though didn’t defeat the Aussies, at least, succeeded in delaying the inevitable.

At the end of it all, it’s not hard to understand why guys like Dravid, Kallis, Sachin and Lara were respected as they still are by the Australians. For when the rest in their respective sides gave up, something in them pushed them to excel and toy with the beast whilst giving it their everything despite the odds often stacked against their favour.

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Dev Tyagi

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Dev Tyagi

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