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First Blood to West Indies in World Cup Opener

World Cup Cricket News 09/02/03

Report by Shane Dell

The Prince from Port of Spain Brian Lara, set up one of the most memorable victories ever recorded by the West Indies over South Africa. Chasing 279 for victory, the South Africans were unable to make the total after their run chase fell short at 9/275, after being docked an over due to their slow bowling rate during the Windies batting innings. The Windies made 5/278 in their alotted 50 overs.

Although the Windies lost early wickets, the momentum of run scoring increased with the arrival of Brian Lara at the crease following the dismissal of Chris Gayle for two. Lara played a a rock solid innings making 116 runs, before being caught by Pollock off the bowling of Ntini. It was classic Lara batting, which set up the record run chase for the South Africans seeking victory in the opening match of the World Cup at Newlands in Capetown. The previous record being 229 runs when South Africa defeated Zimbabwe in 1996/97.

The South Africans looked set for victory in the final over of the game and required just nine runs to snatch the match from the opposition. But, Lance Klusener who was belting the Windies bowlers all around the ground, skied a ball to Carl Hooper fielding at deep mid wicket and with his dismissal, so went the hopes of a nation. Ntini, who was the next player to the crease was out for a duck with eight runs required off three balls. Allan Donald came to the crease but was hesitant to take the strike, finally with Boje on strike and requiring 8 runs with one ball left to bowl, the Windies claimed one of their most memorable odi victories ever when the South African run chase fell just three runs short, even though Boje scored a four of the last ball of the match.

South Africa could only blame themselves for the loss, obviously caused by being penalised one over for their earlier slow over rate.

The standout performer in this match was none other than Brian Lara, who by all apearances looks set to have a huge World Cup campaign if his performance against the South Africans is any indication.

Gaining the early momentum in their pool, the West Indies will no doubt be very hard to stop in the coming days when they take on other teams in their pool and should make the super six stage of the tournament without too much trouble.

Can the "dark horse" win the World Cup as earlier predicted in another story featured previously on Abc of Cricket.

Time will tell, but don't be surprised. After all, this is the World Cup and anything could happen!

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