India v West Indies, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day November 23, 2011

Sublime Bravo makes India pay

S Aga

You know the dice are loaded in favour of batsmen when a bowler that's taken four wickets in the innings speaks of feeling 'cheated' at the lack of bounce on offer. That said, few expected a West Indies batting line-up missing its only experienced campaigner - Shivnarine Chanderpaul - to make India toil more than six sessions to dismiss them. But with Darren Bravo crafting a marvellous 166 and sterling support from Kirk Edwards, Kieran Powell and Marlon Samuels, the hosts were left to play catch-up all day.

Bravo was reprieved on the first evening when he had 33 - a low chance to Rahul Dravid's left at slip - and India were given ample time to regret that lapse as he continued his stupendous form on this tour of the subcontinent. In Kolkata, his 136 had been about saving face. Here, having come in after the openers gave the team a tremendous start, he could set the tempo. "Once he's set, he can be an ominous batsman to bowl to," said R Ashwin, who spent much of the press conference speaking about the "disheartening" nature of a pitch that he once thought of as the "most sporting in India".

Having fallen for 195 in Bangladesh, it appeared as though a double-century was on the cards for Bravo when he had a swipe at a Varun Aaron delivery that angled across him. "I became a little tired," he said. "I've had a bit of flu and that took its toll on me."

Till then, though, he had seldom been troubled, unveiling some lovely drives and whiplash cuts when the opportunity presented itself. Ashwin kept offering the bait outside off stump, but he was seldom tempted. When the ball pitched in line, he made sure the bat was well in front of pad.

Once they survived the second new ball, he and Edwards piled on the agony, one all left-handed elegance and the other a muscular right-hander with a no-nonsense style that reminded some of Clive Lloyd.

Powell was no less impressive, announcing his intent with an audacious loft down to the sightscreen. At one point, he had 28 from 28 balls and it needed a superb afternoon spell from Aaron to drag the hosts back into the game.

"Kirk's finding his feet in the international game," said Bravo. "He and I have a good understanding when we bat together." Their cause was undoubtedly helped by a sizeable opening partnership. "We just had to continue where they left off," said Bravo.

Having lost two Tests as a result of poor shot selection and losing wickets in clusters, West Indies will look at this scorecard with great satisfaction. Bravo stole the headlines, prompting more Brian Lara comparisons, but over six sessions, five others also stood tall and ensured that they were counted.

Bravo and West Indies now find themselves in a position from where they can dictate terms. "We'll go out there with high energy and see what our fast bowlers can do," he said, looking ahead to the prospect of an all-too-rare victory away from home. "It's a decent batting wicket, but there's a bit of turn. It played much better today. If you apply yourself, there are runs to be had."

Bravo illustrated that, with a fluency and swagger that suggested we should see a lot more of him in the years to come.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adil on November 24, 2011, 21:44 GMT

    @sunnynkfact, forget about alltime great bowlers, no Indian bowler was ever good enough to be the best bowling attack of his own era, let alone all time. Reason, they dont have talent, its a plain and simple fact. If you look at alltime highest team and individual scores and partnerships, you will find most of them are against India. Indian batsemn on the other hand are talented, and most of the time lucky as they play most of their cricket on pitches where even WI can score 590!!!

  • Anver on November 24, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    Wi scored a huge 590 courtesy Bravo & the top order.......i think Sammy is playing a safe game here, actually he could have declared & given atleast 15 overs to bat & put some sort of pressure on Ind....but now surely this is heading for a tame draw !!!

  • Tahir on November 24, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    Windies have built on the confidence since giving tough time to the champions of that time from where headed for a whitewash in england. Then last tour of bandgladesh gave them much needed warmup before the took on bowling lineup battered by England. In west indies they did it without gayle and now they have done it without the big three and Bravo as well. Wel done west indies.

  • Dummy4 on November 24, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    I don't think WI are really playing to win this match. They should have declared last evening and would have been in much better situation. But I think they were looking for a position from where they can't be defeated.

  • Abhishek on November 24, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    If this was the booster to the WI cricket, then I wont mind it even as an Indian fan! Hope this gives thm the confidence about tackling further challenges in the future. Their reluctance to give India a few over last evening was criticised but perhaps you can only do so much at one time! Next time they would surely do it!

  • Mustehsun on November 24, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    i just find out, how long India is playing cricket?, no Indian bowler made it into all time best TEST or ODI bowler, anyone tell me why is that?

  • suhail on November 24, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    @karn - hey, why are you so upset? just because someone dared to say that Bravo is better than Sachin? Come on. Bravo may not be better than Sachin, but surely there have been and there will be better batsmen than Sachin. Have the courage to accept the truth.

  • Dru on November 24, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    How good is this guy Bravo - not many batsman come to India and reel off hundreds on their first tour. I have no idea how he is against fast bowling but his debut series against SL he made an impact and has built on since. Someone said players like Lara come once in a lifetime but this guy has already shown plenty to get excited about. Also folks need to stop compairing every WI team to team of the 80's and every fast bowler to Holding and Marshal. That's also one in a life time and there havent been too many bowlers like that after the 80's in any team. The Australians have shown that you dont need four super fast bowlers to dominate the game for a long time and with a few spinners comming out of WI may be its time to start looking at the WI with a different perspective and not just compare to the 80's WI all the time.

  • Paul on November 24, 2011, 5:33 GMT

    Im sorry but how can anyone get excited about playing in India. These huge scoring games are bad for test cricket. Rubbish.

  • sam on November 24, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    @RandyOZ Maybe, maybe not! But one thing I must tell you between 2002 and 2006 there were no great bowling line ups (except Australia's) and Ricky Thomas Ponting shown only during that period! Even Sangakkara is better than him. In the last 20 years it has been Lara > Sachin > Kallis > Sangakkara > Ponting > the rest. This is the best batsmen list not the most feared batsmen list. That list goes as such Sehwag > Gilchrist > the rest.

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