No blame on Pollard after 'sad end' - Bravo
West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo wished there had been an extra ball to prevent what he called a "sad end" to a thrilling match which led to his team being eliminated from the Champions Trophy on net run-rate.
Before Ryan McLaren started what turned out to be the final over, West Indies were four runs ahead of the par score, which was 186 for 5 after 26 overs. After just one ball, which witnessed Kieron Pollard caught brilliantly at wide third man by Dale Steyn, the equation had changed in South Africa's favour as the par scores were tied and West Indies had played their delivery of the tournament.
Bravo along with his predecessor Darren Sammy were left stranded in the wet as the South Africans vanished within a moment when the umpires decided the rain was too heavy.
When Steve Davis and Rod Tucker decided to call off the match it was roughly 20 minutes after the official closing time of 7.22 pm which accounted for the extra hour allocated in the playing conditions. In fact, it is understood that Andy Pycroft, the match referee, had thought hard about imposing a penalty on South Africa, who it turns out were slightly behind the over rate. But the match officials had been lenient to both teams while allowing as many allowances as they could to extend the game despite the late drizzle which was making things difficult for everyone.
In the end Bravo made it clear he was not blaming the umpires. "I must be honest that I am disappointed with the way the game ended," he said. "But I am not disappointed at what the umpires did - they had a job do and do to the best of their abilities. We as players have no control over any decision they make.
"I think it would have been fair to both teams and to the fans if that extra ball had been bowled or something like that. It was very difficult for both teams," Bravo said. "It was a sad end to what would have been a fantastic game. I know the fans would have loved to see the finish. But that is how it goes some time."
Bravo also gave his backing to Pollard despite the game-changing dismissal. "Why should we blame him? His innings along with Marlon Samuels allowed us to get where we were at that point of time. Kieron did his part. Unfortunately he got out. The game was still in our hands. Kieron did his part. Sammy was to bat, Myself was to bat. Narine was to bat. It was a great run chase."
Minutes before the media conference, Bravo had walked into the indoor school for the after match presentation with his laces untied. You could see him try hard not to let his emotions show too much and he tried even harder to put on a smile as the South African pair of AB de Villiers and Colin Ingram gave him man hugs while passing their commiserations.
The day before the match Bravo said the onus was on South Africa, who had succumbed to pressure previously in big matches, thereby earning the unwanted moniker of chokers. Now, 24 hours later, Bravo was trying hard not to choke himself.
As disconsolate as he was, Bravo said despite a rain-filled Friday, both teams had managed to stir up a lot of excitement. Despite a stiff target he always had the belief in his batsmen to surmount the challenge.
"South Africa batted very well, and my guys, the way how we went out there and the run chase, we always thought that 230-odd on a small ground with a fast outfield [was gettable] and we always backed ourselves actually to get right back into the game. Up until the last ‑‑ up to when Kieron got out, we were right there within striking range.
"So, I'm disappointed we didn't go all the way, but I must say I give credit to all my guys. They played very well. We should be proud of ourselves but we have struggled in this tournament, and we are just looking forward to building some momentum and trying to build a stronger one‑day team."
Although the Duckworth-Lewis par score was being displayed after every over on the big screen, teams have fumbled at times with working out exactly where they need to be. Considering the power hitters present in their lower order, West Indies would have remained confident of chasing down any target.
"It's always good to be ahead," Bravo said. "We were right within range, one run behind or something like that. Kieron got out at a crucial time, but as I said, it's a great opportunity for us to learn from this situation.
"There is no reason for us to actually blame or point fingers at anyone. We should be proud of the way how we went about the short chase, but unfortunately we did not make it to the next round, but these things can actually make us stronger as a team."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo