Bravo brothers get little support from their team-mates

Darren Bravo scored 73 off 96 balls.

By Suneer Chowdhary

New Delhi, February 24, 2011

West Indies frittered away two good partnerships involving the Bravo brothers to be bowled out for 222 before their 50 overs were up. In a collapse akin to some of the oft-repeated ones by the West Indian sides of the recent years, they lost nine wickets for the addition of only 109 runs on a good pitch after being inserted in.

One would have thought that Chris Gayle would have got enough practice of playing spinners by now. A series against Zimbabwe had seen Ray Price and Prosper Utseya test him while the Tests and the ODIs in Sri Lanka were replete with spin and spin bowlers.

And yet, his stroke to get out to Johan Botha in the first over reeked of surprising tactics, at best. He pushed at a ball that turned and took the edge through to the slips off the third ball of the game to leave the West Indian side in early strife.

However, the rise of a star is usually amidst such strife much like how Brian Lara had smashed his jaw-dropping 277 years ago at Sydney. Here, it was his cousin, Darren Bravo, who made batting look much simpler than it was. There were strokes all around the wicket and the one so reminiscent of his cousin was a cover-drive full of disdain and a follow-through filled with Caribbean-like flair.

At the other end, Devon Smith, fairly limited in stroke-making, gave Bravo good company and brought about a century-run stand. By the time the two added 111, Bravo had got to 73 of them and none of the bowlers had had much effect on Bravo. A maiden international century looked a certainty.

Unfortunately for the team and him, his innings was cut short by Botha as he was trapped in front while trying to flick the ball away.

It was the recall of debutant Imran Tahir that pegged the West Indian side further back. After having conceded 13 runs in the two overs he bowled, Tahir got around to getting his line and length right apart from the wicket of Smith. He followed this up in his very next over by getting the in-form Ramnaresh Sarwan lbw as well to leave the West Indian side staring at a familiar middle-overs collapse.

Dwayne Bravo survived an early dropped chance off Tahir, but once that was out of the way, he barely looked back. There were three sixes and a four in his innings that overshadowed the defensive Shivnarine Chanderpaul and it looked that West Indies were trying to get back into the game.

A misunderstanding between the two cut short the fightback. Chanderpaul played one of those few attacking strokes he does these days a reverse sweep but the ball went straight and quickly to the short third-man. Bravo responded to Chanderpaul s call but was way short by the time Morne Morkel had fired the stumps down.

And much like before, one wicket was all it took for the second, and the more drastic collapse of the day to happen. Tahir returned to get two more wickets to bag a four-for on debut while Steyn got the danger-man Kieron Pollard and captain Darren Sammy out for ducks to polish the tail off.

Brief scores: West Indies 222 all out in 47.3 overs (Darren Bravo 73, Dwayne Bravo 40; Imran Tahir 4 for 41, Dale Steyn 3 for 24) vs South Africa.

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

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