Brath and Bravo prosper
Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 4:33 p.m.
Kraigg Brathwaite made that date and time his own yesterday at the Queen’s Park Oval. One delicate dab wide of short third man was all it took.
Seventeen minutes later, Darren Bravo also got his century moment to remember, playing Kane Williamson just wide of short cover.
Together, Brathwaite, with his first hundred in Test cricket, and Bravo, (109, 11 fours, four sixes) with his first on home turf, stroked away jumbies of different kinds with innings that gave their teammates and the diehards on hand real cause to celebrate.
The result was a partnership worth 182 runs for the fourth wicket – a record against New Zealand – that put their side ahead.
West Indies closed a day extended past 6 p.m. because of an hour-long rain delay on 310 for five, leading by 89 runs.
Both batsmen were eventually dismissed, Brathwaite to the second new ball. But they had answered questions about their games and character at a time when their team needed a positive response.
Brathwaite, with a previous best score of 68 in ten Tests, took the first opportunity on his recall to the team to turn over a new page in his career with an innings where he accentuated the positive like never before.
The 21-year-old made 129, spread over six hours. And when he got the single that took him to three figures, there was one he remembered instantly.
“I thought about my father,“ said Brathwaite, to whom he dedicated the knock.
The opener also mentioned the work he did recently with “positive person” Sir Viv Richards at the Sagicor High Performance Centre, which has helped with his new approach to batting.
He was also grateful to Bravo.
“Obviously he’s a good player. He was talking to me a lot, telling me to play straight and it worked out for both of us,” he said.
And Bravo also was full of praise for his partner.
“I must say very well done to Kraigg. That was a fantastic innings. He eased the pressure on me the way he batted. He’s very disciplined, so I was happy to bat with him. I’m happy that myself and Kraigg were able to put the team in the driving seat.”
Bravo, with a double failure in the first Test coming on the back of a lean season following his premature departure from the tour of New Zealand for personal reasons, again took it personally yesterday.
On reaching his hundred, he sprinted all the way to the boundary in front of the Carib Beer Stand where brother Dwayne and his parents were.
“It’s something I had at the back of my mind before the start of the series. It was more special because it was in front of your family. It was a great feeling,” he said later.
Those in the stands could have comfortably counted the number of false strokes in Bravo’s innings – the miscued lofted effort that brought his downfall to Kane Williamson was the most obvious.
Brathwaite’s lack of errors was equally impressive. But moreso was his determination to keep his score moving, his Test strike rate moving from 33 to 50 during the knock. It was an innings with which he was “quite pleased.”
Helped by the offensive effort of Kirk Edwards who replaced nightwatchman Sulieman Benn, bowled by Tim Southee in the day’s fifth over, Brathwaite combined his usual watchfulness with positive strokeplay, especially against off-spinner Mark Craig.
Edwards also did not let him settle during his rousing partnership of 93 with Brathwaite.
The slender opener shed some of his caution, pulling and tugging through the midwicket region despite New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum’s effort to stifle him in that region.
McCullum kept on the attack with close-in fielders but the batsmen kept up with their selective hitting. By lunch, 118 runs had come in the session for the loss of Benn and then Edwards, who edged a defensive prod to wicketkeeper B.J. Watling off leg-spinner’s Ish Sodhi’s third ball of the match. Edwards had swung the momentum the Windies’ way.
After that the two Bs took over.