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India is like a second home: Brian Lara

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Brian Lara. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

A quarter of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League is finished and the season has had the most exhilarating action already. Being held in a different caravan avatar behind closed doors, the challenges thrown in front of all the teams are unique and different as they do not have the chance to exploit any home advantage. After the conclusion of 15 games, every team has at least one win, though the only undefeated franchise remains to be Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

One of the biggest attractions, apart from what both young veteran national and international players bring to the IPL, is the presence of some legends of the game joining as commentators and broadcaster to cover the league. The star-studded panel of experts for the 14th edition includes the former West Indies batsman Brian Lara as well, who got into a candid chat with Star Sports.

Questions ranging from his debut for West Indies, commentary stints, who he thinks is greatest of all time to his cricketing idol and daily routine were asked and the veteran batsman answered them all. Lara also revealed a young player that he is keen to watch out for and his favorite commentary partner.

Excerpts:

Q: What are you looking forward to the most this year?

Brian Lara: I am looking forward to a team to challenge Mumbai Indians. Mumbai Indians are of course are a great little outfit and a great team. They have had their players for quite some time, so the stability is very good. So, I want to see one of the other teams to truly challenge them in this year’s 2021 IPL.

Q: Your most memorable game so far this year?

Brian Lara: This year there have been quite a few games. The tournament is not that old but to think of, KKR falling apart in their second game – to lose, after being in such a great position, it’s pretty disappointing.

Q: Your player to watch out for so far?

Brian Lara: Young Abdul Samad. I know he has had just two innings, but I think he is someone who can pretty much be one of the shining knights at the end of the tournament.

Q: Which West Indian player is your pick for shining this year?

Brian Lara: I think Jason Holder could do pretty well. He ended up replacing Mitchell Marsh in the 2020 IPL, so I expect him to maybe come up trumps this year. The tracks are not so favorable to pace where he is playing at present, but he is such a good all-round player that I hope he can maintain his play and really show that the West Indians are here to stay.

Q: Who is your favorite co-commentator in the dugout?

Brian Lara: It has got to be Scott Styris. His knowledge of the game and the questions he asks are great. I enjoy working with him.

Q: Who is your Greatest Of All Time?

Brian Lara: The Greatest Of All Time has to be….different eras. I am someone who finds it very difficult to have an opinion on the Greatest Of All Time when there are so many good ones. I mean, back in the day, of course, Don Bradman. Let me give you a few – Garfield Sobers, a great all-rounder, Sir Vivian Richards, a great batsman. Then, in my time, you had guys like Jacques Kallis, all-around ability, Sachin Tendulkar, a great batsman. So, quite a few. I think I love, really appreciating each player for what they brought to the game.

Q: Who was your cricketing hero while growing up?

Brian Lara: When I was very young, it was Roy Fredricks, a left-handed opening batsman from the West Indies in the 70s and the early 80s. Back in those days as a kid, I was a left-handed batsman. He used to have a long-sleeve white shirt. I also used to have a long-sleeve white shirt, just to be like him. But then, as I grew a little older, Sir Vivian Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, these were all the guys who I tried to pick something and learn out of them.

Q: A left-hander out there who reminds you of yourself.

Brian Lara: I would say Darren Bravo. When he is in form, he looks really good. So, yeah, from the same village. He is also family, so I can see why some of his shots resembled some of mine when I was playing.

Q: What is your routine like before you go live on TV?

Brian Lara: Rest, rest, and trying to gain as much knowledge of what I am going to talk about. But for me, it is such a hectic environment, such a bio-bubble, is getting as much rest as possible because it is pretty intense, for like eight hours or so every day.

Q: Who is the funniest co-commentator you have over here?

Brian Lara: Of course, Graeme Swann, without a doubt!

Q: Is there a commentator whose voice you would love to borrow?

Brian Lara: Definitely, not Michael Holding. I think that’s very unique. I’d like to develop a voice of my own. So, I am unhappy with it at the present and hopefully, I can refine it, stand out and stand unique.

Q: What do you love the most about being here in India?

Brian Lara: India is like a second home. I came to India when I was 14-years-old. I came in 1984 to play in a school tournament. Since then, I have fallen in love with the place. A lot of good friends are there. The entire country is beautiful. It has, like every other country, has its good and bad points, but I love it and being in a country that loves cricket, is so very important. I feel very humbled when I am actually here in India.

Q: Your cricket debut or your commentary debut. Which one made you more nervous?

Brian Lara: Cricketing debut for sure. Commentary is kind of riding on your cricket career. Being a 19-year-old and getting an opportunity to play for the West Indies was something very special.

Q: Would you bat first and set the target or would you chase it down?

Brian Lara: I think chasing down looks like one of the better things to do, maybe percentage-wise. But I just feel that when the target is onboard, you know exactly what you have to do.

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