Bravo shines in series win

Wavell Hinds lashed Suresh Raina over midwicket to the boundary rope and ignited celebrations for the West Indies in securing a 3-1 series win over India. Having entered the series as very much the underdogs, the West Indies cruised to their third consecutive victory over the Indians, with a margin of 6 wickets on this evening at the Queen’s Park Oval.

Tight cricket was the formula through the first half of the series. In this most crucial of matches, however, it was the class of captain Brian Lara and composure of allrounder Dwayne Bravo that ensured a comfortable win. The two Trinidadians came together at the dismissal of Chris Gayle for 46, and brought to bloom a partnership of 91 for the third wicket, to the delight of the home supporters.

Lara began slowly and carefully, but with time in the middle he grew in confidence before finally emerging dominant. Ever nimble and fleet of foot, Lara built his innings with quick singles, sharp twos, and looked far more like a teenager than 37 years of age. Then with victory in sight he saw fit to serve warning of his stature, flicking Ramesh Powar over midwicket to bring up his half-century.

At the other end Bravo met pressure early in his innings. The score was 91/3 when he arrived, and Dravid sensed opportunity in the defence of a modest target of 218. He employed a short leg fielder for the 22-year-old, but despite some early uncertainty against the spinners, Bravo followed the lead of his captain and mentor.

Lara continued to inspire with two fours and a straight six off consecutive Harbhajan Singh deliveries. Yet even as he was caught in the deep for 69 off 97 balls, the accomplice Bravo rarely looked perturbed. Instead he raised his game to another level and saw the responsibility of completing the chase.

Hailing back to his controlled and classy performance in Australia last year, Bravo flourished with a series off strokes on both sides of wicket. His new partner, Hinds looks as assured, and the 36 runs needed at Lara’s downfall were erased in the space of 4.2 overs.

Bravo was unbeaten on 61 – his maiden ODI half-century – and faced 62 balls, whilst hitting 3 fours and a six. No slouch, Hinds smacked 3 fours in his 13 off 15 balls.

The West Indies won the game with 6 overs to spare and the series with a game in hand. Undoubtedly disappointed, it was not the sharpest of displays from the Indian tourists. Where fielding had previously been impeccable in this series, simple errors across the ground were all too frequent. It was the main reason that, despite the early loss of Marlon Samuels (9) and the in-form Ramnaresh Sarwan (6), the result was never truly in question.

It was another thoroughly impressive display from a revitalized West Indies team. After losing their first four one-day matches this year, the West Indies have now won nine of ten, with the close loss in the first ODI the only blemish.

Once more it was the bowlers who led the charge. Ian Bradshaw was typically reliable in accounting for Virender Sehwag (11) and Suresh Raina (7), and India struggled to find form from their poor start. Collymore returned the key wicket of Dravid for 15, which set Yuvraj Singh (52) and Mohammed Kaif (62) onto the task of rebuilding.

The young pairing did so admirably and served as prelude to the sensible play later replicated by Lara and Bravo. Both batsmen reached half-centuries, but Fidel Edwards muddled the momentum with a crucial breakthrough. Dhoni replaced Yuvraj with expectations of explosive hitting during the remaining 19.1 overs.

It was another case of a failure to launch, as despite being unbeaten at the end of the innings, Dhoni could not fulfil his young legacy. Instead he comparatively laboured for 46 runs off 56 balls, losing three partners along the way.

Bravo shone with ball and got the wickets of Kaif, Pathan and Agarkar. It was enough to secure footing for his eventual Man of the Match award, and fed confidence that later shone through when he was promoted to number five at a crucial stage in the game. In essence the move summed up this third stint of Lara’s captaincy. Ahead of the more established Hinds, he engaged Bravo in the moment and handed the responsibility of achieving something precious for West Indies cricket – victory.

India 217-7 (50 overs)
Mohammed Kaif 62, Yuvraj Singh 52, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 46*
Dwayne Bravo 3-32, Ian Bradshaw 2-41

West Indies 218-4 (44 overs)
Brian Lara 69, Dwayne Bravo 61*, Chris Gayle 46
Ramesh Powar 2-56

West Indies won by 6 wickets; win series 3-1.

Cricket Web Man of the Match: Dwayne Bravo – 61* and 3-32

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