Darren Bravo

Darren Bravo

An item of cricket first – Darren Bravo of Trinidad and Tobago stroked a top score of 81 and was last man out after coming in at the fall of the first wicket to lead his West Indies team on recovery from 91 for 6 to a respectable 271 in reply to Australia’s 3 for 551 declared first innings score in the Second Test in Melbourne.

 

Australia, batting a second time ended Day three on 3 for 179 for an overall lead of 459. More details in our 7 am News.

 

Darren Bravo lays down heroic batting effort against rampaging Australia

 

 

Hosts Australia, comprehensive innings and 214 run winners against West Indies in the first Test of the series three,are still highly likely to win the current second but they must now work much harder to do so than had once seemed likely – all because of the first innings resilience laid down by Windies top-order batsman Darren Bravo.

 

Helped in large part by the debutant Carlos Brathwaite, maker of a daring and dicey 59, Bravo was able to shepherd the West Indies tail from their overnight 6 for 91 to an unexpectedly sizeable 271, leaving Australia who made 551 for 3 declared for a lead of 280.

 

Australia opted not to have the West Indies bat  again, batting a second time themselves and ending the third day on 179 for 3 for an overall 459-run lead.

 

If declaring overnight, Australia will leave West Indies all of two days to effect pursuit of a record-high victory target.

 

Not out on 13 from 75 balls faced when West Indies went to bed at the close of the second day, Bravo found Braithwaite an able partner and they added 188, Bravo 81 of these in more than five hours of bloody-minded defiance.

 

Relying on patience and discipline against Australia’s bowlers, Bravo who has modelled his game on that of his world star cousin Brian Lara, played an innings that was more reminiscent of the kind played by also famous Guyanese class batsman Shivnarine  Chanderpaul.

Chanderpaul’s usually dour batting was reflected by Bravo who spent six hours at the crease, while also not scoring a boundary from the first 100 balls he faced.

The match statisticians note that of 28 West Indian batting partnerships during this series, Bravo who topped with a century in West Indies first innings in the first Test has been part of 18. The other 10 have all featured Kraigg Brathwaite; the opener who made 95 out of West Indies limp 179 second innings first Test score.

Bravo came to the crease on the second afternoon at 1 for 35. Wickets quickly began to fall around him, but he held firm. His first boundary did not come until he had already faced 100 deliveries.

His first 100 balls brought just 15 runs, but he scored quicker once Brathwaite had departed and counted eight boundaries in his 81 until he was the last man out, caught at gully trying for some late runs before he ran out of partners.

By the end of his innings, he had the distinction of boasting the highest average of all time – 52.57 – for West Indians away from home, with a minimum of five Tests.

Bravo had soaked up 204 deliveries for his 81, and had batted for 363 minutes –  more than a full day of scheduled play. In the past 25 years, only two West Indians, both left-handers too, have batted for more than six hours in an innings yet failed to reach a century: Chanderpaul did it twice and Jimmy Adams also did it twice..

From 6 for 91 at the start of play, West Indies were in a position of much greater respectability. By tiring the Australian bowlers they discouraged Steven Smith from enforcing the follow-on. Suddenly, there was enthusiasm in the field again, genuine celebrations when a wicket fell in Australia’s second innings.

West Indies will not win this Test, and probably won’t even draw it, but on day three they at least regained some respect. And they had Bravo to thank for it.

West Indies had some luck in continuing their first innings as Aussie pacer James Pattinson was no-balled when bowling Braithwaite on 13 and when he Braithwaite was caught at fine leg on 50.

 

When the day began, Australia still had thoughts of a quick four wickets, a follow-on and a hat-trick of Test matches over inside three days after Adelaide Oval’s day-nighter and the mismatch at Bellerive.

It was only on the stroke of lunch that the hosts were able to strike, Lyon teasing out a return catch from Brathwaite while working around the wicket.

Even so, the partnership served to keep the West Indian innings alive for long enough to leave Smith questioning the wisdom of enforcing the follow-on in search of a rapid innings victory. He was to discount the possibility entirely once Bravo kept the remainder of the tail in the field for all but a few minutes of the afternoon session, with Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Jomel Warrican all contributing runs and time at the crease.

Earlier top-order West Indies batsmen Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin and captain Jason Holder all made ducks.