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Classic World Cup Moments

Brathwaite's 101 and heartbreak

He brought West Indies within five runs of victory with his first international hundred, but it wasn't enough

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
No man, no cry: Brathwaite fell at the final hurdle with an over left to go  •  Getty Images

No man, no cry: Brathwaite fell at the final hurdle with an over left to go  •  Getty Images

Fairly or unfairly, Carlos Brathwaite is consigned forever to be associated with the 2016 T20 World Cup final. Before that he had scored two centuries in all cricket - first-class, List A, T20 - and since then only one.
What a century that last one was. On a glorious afternoon at Old Trafford in the 2019 ODI World Cup, Brathwaite threatened to jump out of the shadows of Eden Gardens. Chasing 292 against New Zealand, West Indies still needed 47 in five overs when the ninth wicket fell. Having played a perfectly decent ODI knock of 60 off 62 till then, Brathwaite now turned the equation from runs to number of sixes needed.
A lukewarm World Cup till then came alive with Brathwaite putting the fear of that high backlift and clean swing into the New Zealand bowlers. Four sixes, two fours and a few scampered runs later, West Indies needed just eight off the last two overs.
Having exhausted their options, New Zealand went to James Neesham's slower short balls to bring the big leg-side boundary into play. Not long before, Neesham had all but quit cricket because he struggled to reconcile with the wild swings in the results in the sport, which often had little to do with the effort put in. Now he found himself in a situation with precious little in his control.
For the first five balls of the penultimate over, the plan more or less came off. A couple of runs were taken, which brought up Brathwaite's hundred. Now came the last ball of the 49th: does Brathwaite look for a single to take the strike next over or just try to land the one hit that will end the match?
Brathwaite saw the short ball didn't rise enough, so he went for the latter option. Neesham heard a mishit, Trent Boult at long-on felt a mishit and ran in, but then realised it was travelling more than he thought, backtracked, leapt in the air, caught it, landed, ready to lob it in, but realised he wouldn't have to because he had balanced himself inside the triangles.
Brathwaite sank to his knees, Ross Taylor came over to console him, but it didn't even register on Brathwaite. A personal battle had been won, but his team lost despite a better quality knock than the one at Eden Gardens three years before.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo