High expectations as Lara welcomed back

With Brian Lara and three other stars back, there are high expectations for the West Indies against South Africa in the second test starting on Friday at Queen’s Park Oval.

Without the foursome, among seven who were omitted from the first Test over a contract dispute with the national board, the West Indies surprised South Africa at Guyana by making the visitors bat to a draw.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who retained the captaincy despite Lara’s recall, said he was happy to have back the world record-holder, along with seasoned batsmen Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.

“Brian is our best batsman, so it is always great to have him in the squad,” Chanderpaul said. “But I do feel sorry for the youngsters who had to give way. On the other hand, I believe that the team is a stronger one than in the first Test, and we should do well here in Port-of-Spain.” West Indies coach Bennett King said.

He added that despite the positives from Guyana, there were no thoughts of his team holding a psychological edge over the visitors.

“It was a draw, so at the end of the day when you look back at history you’re going to see two sides that didn’t get a result, so it’s probably level pegging at the moment,” King said.

Lara, Gayle and Sarwan boost a batting order in which Chanderpaul and Wavell Hinds are on a high after maiden double centuries in the opener of the four-Test series.

Donovan Pagon, who scored a stylish 35 on debut, retains his spot in place of all-rounder Ryan Hinds, who missed out at the last minute after contracting mumps on Wednesday.

All-rounder Bravo gives the batting department more depth, and his effective medium pace will support the fast bowling trio of Pedro Collins, Daren Powell and Reon King.

The South Africans, still without the injured Shaun Pollock’s experience, are confident they are moving in the right direction after the draw in Guyana.

“We are still learning about the conditions in the Caribbean,” captain Graeme Smith said. “It’s taking us a while to settle down. We were completely outplayed on the first three days but we finally got things going and earned a draw.”

Smith had an injury scare in his team’s final training session when he was struck on the chin by fast bowler Andre Nel. But the blow was not serious enough to put his participation in the match in doubt.—Sapa

Squads:

West Indies: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (captain), Wavell Hinds, Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Donavon Pagon, Dwayne Bravo, Courtney Browne, Daren Powell, Pedro Collins, Reon King, Dwight Washington.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Mark Boucher, Andrew Hall, Nicky Boje, Charl Langeveldt, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Boeta Dippenaar, Monde Zondeki, Ashwell Prince.

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