Exactly 16 years ago, on this day, West Indies great Brian Lara climbed Mount 400 against England during the fourth Test in Antigua.
On 12 April, 2004, it was indeed a test of skill and patience for the then 34-year-old, and pressure was mounting not only on him, but also the team who were staring at a clean sweep after having lost the first three games.
#OnThisDay in 2004, Brian Lara slammed a record-beating 400* against England in St John's 💥
It remains the highest-ever individual score in Tests.
An extraordinary knock by an extraordinary cricketer 🙌 pic.twitter.com/eDSj9RzxFq
— ICC (@ICC) April 12, 2020
On the opening day, the Windies lost Darren Ganga early, leaving them at 33-1. But then came Lara in at number three. The skipper had come into this contest scoring just 100 off the previous three matches, but he seemed pretty confident for the challenge that was ahead.
Lara had a well-set Chris Gayle (69) as his partner when he came to bat, but the latter soon collapsed to Gareth Batty’s hands. After Gayle's dismissal, it was rampage time for the hosts as Lara got down to serious business. Experienced campaigner Ramnaresh Sarwan came to bat, and on a pitch that hardly had any offer for the bowlers, the Windies duo took the advantage and scripted a 232-run stand before Sarwan fell for 90.
And after sharing brief stints with Ricardo Powell and Ryan Hinds, Lara stitched a mammoth 282 run stand with centurion Ridley Jacobs, during which he achieved the 400-run figure.
Lara reached the milestone with a single towards fine leg during the first session on the third day, as his marathon knock, consisting of 43 fours and four sixes came to an end.
This was, in fact, just 10 years after Lara’s 375 against England at the same venue in 1994, and just months before this match took place, Australia’s Matthew Hayden surpassed his record by amassing 380 against Zimbabwe. For Lara, it was Déjà vu time again and he reclaimed his record.
None of these knocks come easy for the players, and Lara’s was no different- He rescued himself from a Steve Harmison appeal for caught behind in the earlier stages, later when on 127, he survived a run-out and Gareth Batty had a caught-behind chance when Lara was batting on 373.
Lara’s incredible feat, which came on the third day, helped West Indies post a mammoth total of 751-5 in the first innings. The match was eventually drawn with England having won the series.
While it will be an impossible task for any to climb the Mount 400 by Lara in Test cricket, his achievement will be one that inspires ages and generations to come in the ever-changing sport of cricket.
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