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Ganga hits century as Windies battle to survive

Port-of-Spain: Daren Ganga, playing his first Test match in his native Trinidad, celebrated by hitting a century on Monday as the West Indies battled to stay alive in the second Test against Australia.

Ganga, who became the first Trinidadian to hit a Test century at the Queen’s Park Oval for 20 years, helped the West Indies to 273 for four at lunch on the third day in reply to Australia’s first innings 576 for four declared.

The 24-year-old, who went through his first 17 Test matches without a century, has now scored hundreds in his last two.

He completed his hundred, in which he received 185 balls, by sweeping leg-spinner Stuart MacGill through mid-wicket for his 15th boundary.

Ganga’s hundred partially atoned for the crowd’s disappointment on Sunday when fellow Trinidadian Brian Lara missed out on his first home Test century by nine runs.

The last Trinidadian to make a century in Port-of-Spain was Larry Gomes against India in 1983.

Resuming on 186 for three overnight and still needing 191 to avoid the possibility of a follow-on, Ganga and vice-captain Ramnaresh Sarwan chipped away at the total.

They added 62 to the overnight score before Sarwan, who missed the first Test with a fractured finger, fell victim for 26 to a quick yorker from Brett Lee, one of the best deliveries of the match.

By lunch, Ganga had progressed to 117 while Marlon Samuels was not out on five.

Earlier, Lara hit a pulsating 91 after Ricky Ponting’s first Test double century and Adam Gilchrist’s unbeaten 101 had put Australia in a commanding position.

Lara was agonisingly close to his first Test century at home before Brad Hogg bowled him around his legs with two overs of the day’s play remaining.

Lara, whose best score on home turf in a Test is 96, was bitterly disappointed as he trudged back to the pavilion and team officials said he was not in the right frame of mind for the post-match media conference.

Ponting was delighted with his marathon effort. “I’m thrilled to have got there. It was probably the toughest innings I’ve had to play — eight and a half hours at the crease is something I haven’t done before. It was hard work out there.”

Lara and Ganga, who both made centuries in last week’s first Test in Guyana, came together after the West Indies lost two quick wickets for 25 runs in the seven overs before tea.

Lara made a cautious start but got into stride after Australia brought on leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, hitting him for a four and two sixes in successive balls.

In the next over, Lara hit Andy Bichel for successive boundaries, survived a loud leg-before appeal, then completed his half-century when he swept through the offside for two.

Ganga was not far behind as he completed his fifty with eight boundaries off 65 deliveries.

Lara then greeted Hogg by hitting him for a six in his first over before fast bowler Jason Gillespie returned to slow the scoring and quieten the crowd in the last few overs of the day.

Lara, who appeared to be getting nervous as he approached what would have been his 20th century, could not believe his dismissal, asking for a replay before heading back to the pavilion.

Devon Smith, playing his second Test, edged Gillespie and was caught behind by Gilchrist for a duck in the second over of the innings.

Wavell Hinds was then dismissed on the last ball before tea, having made 20, when he edged Brett Lee to first slip.

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