WI v Pak, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval June 7, 2013

`Bravo!' cries turn into survival struggle

Dwayne Bravo promised attacking cricket. West Indies were aggressive with the ball, but with the bat the situation demanded they drop their guard. Pakistan made them fight

Dwayne Bravo told a nearly empty press conference that he was going to be an attacking captain.

It's a nice sentiment. But cricket doesn't always work that way. A flat pitch, bad bowling line-up, or just a touch of nerves and the most attacking modern captain will end up with sweepers and catching fielders who can barely see the batsmen.

Dwayne Bravo attacked.

It helped that Kemar Roach was bowling like he was on rails. That action is so smooth that you can forgive the odd batsman for falling into a trance as he comes in. Pakistan seemed to on masse. It was not hard to have a couple of slips in as this was happening. Even the most defensive captain would have an attacking field when his opening bowler was in the middle of a spell of 6-4-7-3.

Dwayne Bravo had a short leg in. And a leg gully. Not many would try that.

Now it should be pointed out that I'm not talking about the sort of leg gully that captains use when they want to pretend they have a catching fielder. This was a close attacking leg gully who could have seen the hairs on Asad Shafiq's neck standing up.

Regularly there were three, four and even five catchers in place. Pakistan had worked themselves back into the game when Nasir Jamshed forgot his brain. But even at 105 for 4, in the 30th over, Shoaib Malik was greeted with many catchers by Bravo. He found one as well.

Bravo just kept pushing for wickets. He'd even gambled by bowling Roach out in the 35th over. It was the attacking, flamboyant enjoyable cricket he had promised.

And then the West Indies batted.

Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle started the innings like they were only chasing 170 and that it wasn't a big deal. Even when Charles and Darren Bravo departed, the innings moved forward without any real fear despite some class bowling from Pakistan.

Then Gayle was foxed by a sexily flighted ball from Saeed Ajmal. It was a similar dismissal that you will see in any cricket net in the world. The ball went above Gayle's eyeline, Gayle was entranced by it, made his mind up that it was going, and then missed it and was out.

Perhaps it was the fact that on top of the pace of Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan, they still had to deal with Ajmal. Or maybe it was losing their main man.

But from there West Indies forgot about entertainment and attacking and they bummed around the crease like they had missed the last bus home. An easy looking chase suddenly became a painful fight for survival.

Kieron Pollard took 18 balls to get off the mark. And if that sounds like he was batting smart and trying to steady the ship, that's because you didn't see it. It was as if every bit of batting talent Pollard ever had had drained from his body as he reached the crease. The man who effortlessly hits sixes was having enough trouble hitting the ball. Riaz roughed him up. Ajmal tormented him. Even Hafeez was mocking him. Pollard only got off the mark by almost running himself out. Then there was the drop, edges past slip, gloved balls over the keeper.

Even when he hit a good shot, all he looked like was a bad Kieron Pollard impersonator.

At the other end for most of this was his new attacking captain. Dwayne Bravo limped to 11 off 26 in a more attractive way than Pollard, but even though much of the partnership seemed to be two doomed men holding on to the edge of a boat with sharks at their feet, they scored 43 runs in barely more than ten overs. Helped by the fact Misbah was so positive that they wouldn't last, and potentially inspired by Dwayne Bravo's earlier boldness, that he had the field up as often as he could.

It was the exact opposite sort of cricket that the West Indies captain had promised to play. Yet, it was what they needed to do. It silenced the massive Pakistani crowd. And it got them just close enough for a spirited tail to guide them home.

There are few things harder to do in life than beat an inspired Pakistan with a ferocious crowd behind them and class bowling at every turn. You do it any way you can. Attack and play pretty when it suits you; claw and fight like hell when it doesn't.

Bravo wasn't always an attacking captain, but he was a winning one.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 9, 2013, 20:47 GMT

    Everyone made comments for Sammy or Tino best to be included at expense of batsman. But the problem was batting not bowling Charles should not open with gayle two attacking batsmen who don't take singles. Ramdin or either bravo should open and let Charles come later down order. West Indies simply does not have a good option to replace sarwan we need a batsman who can rotate strike. Bravos and marlon Samuels are only ones who do that in this team. And even so neither bravo is very consistent on getting singles yo rotate strike.

  • Len on June 9, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    As a WIndian fan, It is obvious that WIndies got away with it against Pakistan. We only have two bowlers, Roach and Narine. The batting, not surprisingly, looked totally jittery chasing down a modest target although the fielding was good. I am afraid India will expose our bowling if we bowl first and will expose our batting if we have to chase their target.

  • Ning-nong on June 8, 2013, 18:43 GMT

    @regofpicton I think you will find the Jarrod is a big fan of Pak entertainment cricket. He was just drawing on the fact of Bravo's WI team having to revert to survival after he had earlier declared they would be an attacking outfit under his rule. I do think however that may be Jarrod has a soft spot for Sammy? whom I also feel although not talented like the other players deserves his place in the team for his captaincy and heart alone. I for one being a Pakistan fan, although this was a losing cause (due to batting as usual), was thoroughly entranced by the quality of Pak bowling on display. Thank you Misbah for putting on a score that allowed a game to be observed close to 50 over per side. Azhar Ali should be in this squad given Younis Khan is out, and we have a lame back-up. I feel Asad Shafiq although talented will get the chop after this tournament, he lacks in the extra fighting quality which is required in abundance to play for Pak, because of media and public pressure!

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    Fantastic cricket. wi need another bowler. sarwan looks 2 shadow of himself. including Sammy will b a better choice.

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    Exciting cricket! Even though we lost, I find solace in the fact that WI are the strongest contenders for the Cup as far as I am concerned. We gave them a heck of a fight. We will see you in the finals ;)

  • RAJARAMAN on June 8, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    If only Pak had posted a decent score ... WI would never had an answer to Pak bowlers especially spinners ... just too low a total to defend

  • VENKATACHALAM on June 8, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    Both Darren Bravo and Sarwan can't be in the XI. One has to make way for Tino Best against India where they will clearly need 3 regular pacemen.

  • Dummy4 on June 8, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    well played by WI. they showed lot of discipline and character in bowling. and also totally agree that calm approach had win them that game. Pollard played one of sensible innings he ever had. so did gayle. he didnt just throw ed it.

  • joel on June 8, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    @ anoop.. you saw Sarwan's shadowy self from 2 balls? Have you seen him bat lately, otherwise, to make such a pronouncement, or are you merely parroting what others have said before you?

  • Joshy on June 8, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    WI will have to include Sammy in the eleven. He may not be the most gifted of the cricketers ,but certainly one of the most entertaining, energetic, committed and fearless ones. Bring him back Bravo and you get a few economical overs in the middle, attacking batting down the order and excellent work in the field making WI even stronger and more balanced. I strongly believe WI are one of the favourites for the title.

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