Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  

Lara rules out whitewash

West Indian captain Brian Lara ruled out a second successive whitewash defeat in South Africa after his team were beaten by an innings and 65 runs on the fourth day of the second Test at Kingsmead Monday.

"There's no chance of a whitewash," said Lara after the match. The master batsman added his team were improving all the time and were looking forward to 2004 as a new start.

They take on South Africa again on the second day of the new year when they play the third Test at Newlands, Cape Town, Friday.

They have lost both matches so far in the four-Test series and lost all five Tests in 1998-99.

Even if the persistent injury problems dogging his side don't clear up, Lara said his team would not suffer the fate of the side he led five years ago.

"It's not going to happen," he insisted.

Lara appeared on the verge of backtracking when he was asked whether the West Indies could win the last two Tests to share the series.

"That's a possibility he said. A whitewash is also a possibility but I'm ruling it out."

Lara said he was being realistic in his assessment that his side were improving.

"Our batting is getting better all the time. We've got a bowling problem but that's easier to fix than the batting."

He said the fight shown by the current side was already an improvement on recent performances on away tours to Sri Lanka, Australia and England.

Lara said the toss had played a big role, with his side being bowled out for 264 in overcast conditions after being sent in on a pitch with early life.

The pitch then played easily as South Africa scored 658 for nine under sunny skies.

The West Indies were bowled out for 329 Monday despite centuries by Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.