|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
Nagraj Gollapudi and Alex Brown at Lord's
June 12, 2009
If not for Chris Gayle's headline-grabbing antics, Dwayne Bravo might have expected a more torrid time this summer. The murmurs and rumblings surrounding his absence from West Indies' unpopular two-Test series against England threatened to bubble over - particularly as he went on to play a full and active role for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL - but Gayle's Test cricket obituary pushed questions over Bravo's motives to the background.
If Caribbean cricket supporters were upset with Bravo over his appearance in the IPL during a Test series, all is now forgiven. Bravo turned in perhaps the most complete performance of the ICC World Twenty20 to single-handedly guide West Indies to a stunning seven-wicket victory over the defending champions, India, before a febrile Lord's crowd. Evidently, Gayle is not the only player capable of carrying the West Indies.
Bravo's extended stint in the IPL - which ran concurrently with the West Indians' dispiriting Test defeats at Lord's and Chester-le-Street - appears to have done him no harm. His nippy medium-pacers and deft variations unsettled the opposition batsmen, and went far to restricting the Indians to their lowest 20-over total of the tournament. Gautam Gambhir, MS Dhoni and the brothers Pathan made for an impressive list of dismissals and, fittingly, his figures of 4 for 38 were the best of his Twenty20 international career.
But he was not done there. Debunking the "no-Gayle, no-Windies" theory, Bravo combined with the impressive Lendl Simmons (44 off 37 balls) to steer his side home with eight-balls to spare. He did so in the most emphatic style possible - blasting Zaheer Khan over the extra-cover boundary - to round off a 36-ball innings of 66 not out; another career-best.
"I used the opportunity wisely today," Bravo said. "I've had two stints in the IPL and I've gained a lot of experience by sharing experiences with a lot of Test players. I'm happy and flexible and I don't want to play at a particular batting spot. It doesn't really matter where I bat."
Bravo returned from an eight-month injury-enforced lay-off in March, and his surgically-repaired left-ankle is in for its sternest test on Saturday. In a curious piece of scheduling, the West Indians will face the surging South Africans in the first match of a double-header at The Oval, having played the late game at Lord's on Friday. That represents a 15-hour turn-around; even less when commuting times and warm-ups are factored in.
Still, given the enormity of their accomplishment at Lord's, West Indies will presumably be happy to take on Graeme Smith's men at a time when the excitement of the victory over India is still coursing through their veins. A summer that began disastrously has suddenly, inexplicably, taken a dramatic turn for the better. The bedraggled bunch who limped their way through the series against England have taken on the visage of world-beaters. South Africa would be wise to treat them with respect.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor, Alex Brown is deputy editor at CricinfoFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi
Plays of the day from the IPL match between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi
Having the top Associate team play the lowest-ranked Test side without the threat of relegation shows how votes mean more to the ICC than results
Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it
If they are to live up to their potential in next year's World Cup at home, they need to look within and search for inspiration pronto