SK Flashback: When Kevin Pietersen's ton ruined Brian Lara's farewell at the 2007 World Cup
In the last Super 8 match of the 2007 World Cup, played on 21 April at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, the capacity crowd witnessed a thriller of a contest as they bid a final goodbye to their hero, legend and a source of inspiration Brian Lara.
While West Indies remained on course towards a victory for the majority of the match, Kevin Pietersen, who was still in his early days of international cricket back then, scripted a sensational comeback for the English. In the process, he ruined Lara’s last day at the office as far as international cricket was concerned.
This England vs West Indies match was inconsequential to start with as both the teams had performed rather poorly throughout the World Cup and were out of contention for a semifinal spot. However, people still gathered in huge numbers to cheer and support their role model; undoubtedly, Lara was the most decorated, loved and admired West Indies player of his generation.
While the capacity crowd were in anticipation of vintage Lara for one final time, hoping that their hero would put on another display of his signature shots, they had to settle for a meagre 18 runs from Lara’s blade in his final innings. His knock came to a premature end owing to a direct hit from Pietersen that brought the curtains down on his final stay at the crease.
But even though Lara departed early, half-centuries from Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Devon Smith ensured that Windies reached a commanding total of 300 at the end of their quota of 50 overs.
Chasing a target of 301, which was a daunting one back then, England got off to a poor start as they lost Andrew Strauss in the third over. The then England captain Michael Vaughan, who also opened the batting, was joined by Ravi Bopara, and the two stitched together an aggressive partnership to bring England back into the game.
Following Bopara’s exit, in came Pietersen, who single-handedly carried the English innings through the shaky middle overs. Pietersen, who had an inherent ability to rise to the occasion and produce his best cricket when under the pump, brought out his imperious best following a middle order wobble.
When England needed more than 100 runs in less than 15 overs, Pietersen mixed caution with aggression and adopted a street-smart approach. That coupled with his incredible, muscular shot-making helped KP notch up his 5th ODI hundred and 2nd of the World Cup to bring England within touching distance of victory.
The win that looked improbable for England at the turn of 35th-over mark now looked within grasp as the South-African born departed after scoring exactly 100 off 91 balls.
An unlikely hero in wicket-keeper batsman Paul Nixon came to England’s rescue as his team just got over the line with one ball and one wicket to spare. The Windies had only themselves to blame for their poor bowling performance in the death overs let the team and their captain down in a contest they should have won.
Fans who had gathered at the Kensington Oval in massive numbers created a party-like atmosphere around the stadium and were thoroughly entertained with all the drama, excitement and euphoria of a tight finish. However, they would have dearly wished the result had gone the home team’s way, as the most iconic Caribbean player of his generation was walking into the sunset following his final appearance on the international stage.
Nonetheless, this was the most exciting contest of the 2007 World Cup, and a classic farewell to cherish and remember!
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