Johannesburg - West Indian cricket captain Brian Lara sounded an ominous warning ahead of the South African tour by blasting an undefeated 53 from just 28 balls to spur his side to a 12-run victory over the Nicky Oppenheimer XI at Randjesfontein.

Lara scored 20 runs from the last over bowled by Garnett Kruger to boost the Windies to 241 for four wickets in the traditional tour opener. The hosts replied with 229 for five.

That the scores were relatively close was due almost exclusively to schoolboy Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

Van Jaarsveld, an 18-year-old matric pupil at King Edward School in Johannesburg, launched himself at the Windies attack when the situation appeared utterly hopeless for the NFO XI.

What followed was a gloriously pugnacious innings in which he hammered five sixes in making 49 not out from 35 balls.

With 26 needed from the final over, Van Jaarsveld heaved Omari Banks high over wide long on to momentarily give the hosts a sniff of a shock victory.

However, he lost the strike immediately afterwards and Banks managed to stave off any other costly blows.

Curiously skipper Lance Klusener declined to bat, even when his side was way off the required run rate.

Klusener had not bowled particularly well in the Windies innings, conceding 18 runs from his four overs.

With the selectors meeting on Wednesday night, and with talk of a reconciliation between he and national skipper Graeme Smith in the offing, Klusener missed a marvellous opportunity to prove his enormous worth in a tight situation.

Earlier, openers Daren Ganga and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on 87 for the first wicket to provide the platform from which Lara would later launch his offensive.

Of the pair, Chanderpaul was the more fluent in making 53. Ganga, on the other hand, built his momentum as his innings progressed before being bowled by Zander de Bruyn for 70.

The initial South African response was held together by Benji Hector, who made an elegant 48 before being stumped off Chris Gayle. - Sapa