Astle denies Lara

Nathan Astle denied Brian Lara a century at Napier’s McLean Park but the West Indies’ premier batsman had his best innings of the National Bank Series.

The BLACKCAPS were once again frustrated by the weather on the second day of the third Test but the visitors saw their veteran ace and young pretender Runako Morton flourish.

Lara made 83 and Morton survived a run-out mix up to finish on 256 for four when play was abandoned.

The hosts got off to a fine start with Shane Bond removing Daren Ganga (38) with a slow yorker to end his partnership with Lara at 74, with the score on 111.

Lara carried on, displaying a fluency not produced in his four earlier innings.

However, BLACKCAPS skipper Stephen Fleming recalled Astle to the attack, and the all-rounder again showed his unnerving ability to break a threatening pairing.

The Cantabrian was the pick of the bowlers, going on to one for 23 with five maidens from his 13 overs. Scott Styris also claimed five scoreless overs from 13.1, conceding 27 runs.

Lara was taken after 107 deliveries, having added 60 with Morton in 10 overs.

Morton, a One-Day International centurion at Napier earlier in the month, took up the reigns, but was almost dismissed in a bizarre mix-up.

Having added 18 in seven overs with captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the Leeward Islands batsman chased a run.

A breakdown in communication saw him join his skipper at the bowler’s end and it took the intervention of the third umpire to give Chanderpaul out, having made just two runs.

However, the BLACKCAPS fortune did not last, as Morton went on to compile 70, enjoying a 67-run stand with Dwayne Bravo (22) before play was halted by rain during the afternoon session.

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