West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite said the support given to him by senior players was a major factor in achieving victory on his captaincy debut. No one was more pivotal than allrounder Dwayne Bravo, whose nerveless final over clinched a one-run win over India in a run fest at the Central Broward Regional Park in Florida.
"I just want to publicly say thanks to all the senior guys for the help and support they give me on the field throughout the 20 overs," Brathwaite said after the win. "Everyone always has suggestions and it kind of eased my role as captain, as a new captain as well, to have such maturity and such experience on the field always lending a helping hand.
"Before the final ball, we were just fiddling with fields and wondering if to double-bluff or just try to stop the two. So Bravo finally decided and I asked him, 'What's your plan?' He said, 'A slower ball.' I didn't believe he'd bowl a slower ball but I told him, 'I'm backing you. Execute. Express yourself.' I know he came out trumps for us once again and for how many ever years he's been doing it in T20 cricket for West Indies, once again he bowled a champion over, stuck to his guns and bowled a very, very top last delivery to one of the best finishers in world cricket."
Outside of the final over, Brathwaite said the game as a whole was one of the most memorable T20 affairs he'd been a part of, made even more special by the fact that it ended with a victory, in his first match leading the side.
"It's a relief. I always wanted to get that first one, that first win as captain," Brathwaite said. "I know it was a fantastic team effort by the boys. I think that was one of the better T20 games I've ever been a part of and it was a fantastic spectacle and I'm just happy that my first game could be memorable but most importantly that we came out on top."
Brathwaite was playing in the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill for the first time, having been with the West Indies Test squad throughout the four-Test series earlier in India's tour. But with the exception of Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels, the other nine members of the West Indies XI on Saturday had all recently played at the stadium last month, when the Caribbean Premier League held a six-match leg at the facility, while Samuels had also played for West Indies at the ground in 2012.
The West Indies squad's familiarity with the nuances of the venue proved vital at the start of the match, in particular for Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles. One aspect of the ground is the deceptive wind patterns. From field level, the breeze is only faintly detectable. However, standing at the top of the grandstand one will notice the jet stream that cuts through the roof of the stands and blows from elevation northwest above the ground. All that's required is to get underneath the ball and mother nature does most of the work carrying it over the ropes for six.
Charles utilised this jet stream to score brisk half-centuries for St Lucia Zouks against Jamaica Tallawahs in both innings he played at the venue last month while Lewis made 79 for St Kitts & Nevis Patriots against Trinbago Knight Riders. On Saturday, West Indies reached 164 for 1 after 11 overs, and 109 of those runs came in the six overs batting from the Pavilion End, hitting with the jet stream.
The last over in that stretch was Lewis' 32-run 11th over which began with five sixes off Stuart Binny. In all, 16 of the record 21 sixes hit by West Indies on the day came batting from the Pavilion End, making a mockery of the 73-yard boundary measured off by groundsman Mark Perham. Conversely, India only scored 62 runs from their first six overs batting from the Pavilion End.
Lewis, who was Man of the Match for his maiden hundred in just his second T20I for West Indies, said afterward that having the experience of playing in the ground recently as part of the CPL was a definite advantage over India at the start of the game.
"It had a big impact obviously," Lewis said. "I played two games on the wicket. Kudos to the groundsman. He's been doing an extremely good job. I just went out there and backed myself, hit the balls in my scoring areas and put them away."