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Lara helps Windies to solid start v New Zealand

Written by: Staff

WELLINGTON, Mar 25 (Reuters) Brian Lara rediscovered some form with a careful 28 not out to help West Indies reach 95 for one at the close on the first day of the third test against New Zealand in Napier today.

Overnight rain and a wet McLean Park outfield had delayed the start of play until 0300 GMT (0830 ist), and after the early loss of Chris Gayle, Lara and Daren Ganga combined in a 58-run unbroken partnership before the fading light forced the players from the field at 0510.

Play was eventually called off at about 0530 with Lara, who had scored just seven runs in four innings in the series, on 28 with Ganga on 31.

''When you expect to put a team in with overhead conditions being murky, it's never nice to bat in these situations,'' New Zealand vice-captain Daniel Vettori told reporters after his side had won the toss and chosen to bowl.

''You probably expect to pick up a couple more (wickets) and we expected more from the wicket but it wasn't there, so we realise how hard it's going to be tomorrow.'' Gayle had provided West Indies with a breezy start, stroking five boundaries in his 27-ball 30, before he fell into a trap set by Fleming.

The New Zealand captain bought in a short cover after Gayle had scored a few runs through the area with aerial shots, only for his next attempt from a short Chris Martin delivery to be easily snapped up by Peter Fulton for 30.

LAST TEST Lara, who became the highest run scorer in test cricket in Australia last November, in what is bound to be his last test match in New Zealand, nervously flicked the first ball he received from nemesis Shane Bond to fine leg where it dropped just short of Martin.

Bond had dismissed Lara twice this series, both from the first ball the Trinidadian faced from the fast bowler.

Lara also survived a confident lbw appeal from Nathan Astle before the tea break.

In the 20 minutes after tea, Lara began to look more assured, though the light forced the end of the day's play early.

''I suppose he's (Lara) made a statement already by coming out there and the way he played,'' Vettori added.

''He knuckled down and tried to get himself in and face some balls.

''He obviously wants to score some runs but it's up to us not let him do that.'' New Zealand have wrapped up the series after a 27-run victory in the first test in Auckland and a 10-wicket win in Wellington.

Reuters PM GC1208

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