Bravo’s fighting ton keeps West Indies’ hopes alive


Dubai—Darren Bravo held Pakistan off with a fighting ton and put on 77 with Roston Chase for the fifth wicket to take West Indies within 160 runs of their target of 346, before Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz brought Pakistan roaring back with two wickets in three balls. Bravo went into dinner unbeaten on 102 off 223, with Jason Holder for company, and held the key as West Indies required 114 more to win with four wickets in hand.
Only twice in Test history had the last four wickets put on more than 150 to successfully chase down a target. The more recent of those was in 1907. West Indies’ last four wickets were left with 152 more to pull off a stunning come-from-behind victory.
For much of the final day, Bravo proved to be an immovable object at the centre of the Dubai cricket ground. He carried forward his fine form and doughty resistance from the first innings, showing the application and patience to rebuff whatever Pakistan threw at him. His forward defensive shots, of which there were many, were perfectly middled, and he was equally convincing when leaving the ball. On occasion, he unfurled one of his crisp drives or cuts to the off-side boundary, but his knock was more about grit than flair.
After West Indies lost Marlon Samuels off the first ball of the day and Jermaine Blackwood inside the first hour, Chase joined Bravo for a partnership that steadily revived West Indies and unsettled Pakistan over the course of 28.2 overs of stubborn fight. Wahab and Sohail Khan tested the batsmen with occasional bouncers and yorkers, Mohammad Amir bowled probing lines, the spinners plugged away – but Bravo and Chase looked untroubled through it all.
By the 71st over, Chase’s confidence had grown to the extent that he dared to drive Yasir against the turn for a boundary through midwicket. Perhaps that was when confidence became overconfidence. Next ball, Yasir flighted another one pitching outside leg and Chase attempted the same shot again. This time the ball turned past his outside edge to crash into leg stump.
Two balls later, Wahab yorked Dowrich to hit his middle and off stumps, sending him back for a first-ball duck. West Indies were now reeling at 194 for 6, and Pakistan had a firm grip on proceedings again.
It was Amir and Mohammad Nawaz who had helped Pakistan make the early inroads of the day. If Pakistan had been shaken by their collapse on the previous day, Amir’s first-ball wicket was just the tonic they needed. It was a rather unremarkable delivery, bowled from around the wicket, pitching on a good length well outside off and angling in. Samuels was drawn into poking at a ball he could easily have left alone and a thin edge was gleefully accepted by Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps.
Blackwood, coming in at No. 5, shared Samuels’ tendency to fish at balls outside off, the bat well away from the body. Amir persisted with that line from around the wicket and repeatedly beat Blackwood’s outside edge. Noticing the batsman’s predilection for the drive, he also slipped in a full-length slower ball on the stumps. Blackwood took the bait, chipping a checked drive over the bowler’s head.
Blackwood also looked rather uncomfortable against spin, not always certain whether to play forward or back. That turned out to be his undoing, when he played a length ball from Nawaz from deep in his crease and was rapped on the pads in front of leg stump. —AFP