Bravo hundred unable to save Windies from defeat

Batsman Darren Bravo celebrates his eighth Test hundred yesterday as captain Jason Holder (right) applauds the occasion. (Photo courtesy WICB Media) See page 26

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, CMC – Darren Bravo’s attritional eighth Test hundred carried West Indies close but the Caribbean side lost the plot in the final hour, to collapse to a 56-run defeat to Pakistan, late on a tense final day of the historic day/night Test yesterday.

The elegant left-hander carved out a composed 116 as West Indies, chasing an improbable 346 for victory at the Dubai International Stadium, were dismissed for 289 in their second innings with 12 overs left in the contest.

Captain Jason Holder finished on 40 not out while Roston Chase made 35 but with tension building in the Pakistani camp, West Indies suddenly lost their last four wickets for 26 runs to watch their challenge dissipate.

Purposeful focussed batting saw them start the final session on 232 for six – requiring 134 runs for victory – but the turning point came with Bravo’s dismissal, 50 minutes before the scheduled close.

The 27-year-old, unbeaten on 26 at the start, had played flawlessly up that point when he mis-timed one of his trademark booming drives for leg-spinner Yasir Shah to leap to his left and snaffle a sharp return catch, and breathe new life into Pakistan’s victory bid.

All told, Bravo faced 249 balls in a marathon 6-¾ hours at the crease, and struck ten fours and a six.

His dismissal at 263 for seven was the break Pakistan needed as West Indies quickly disintegrated thereafter.

Seven overs later with 13 runs added, the left-hander Devendra Bishoo was plumb lbw for three playing back to left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz and two needless run outs then ensured a farcical end to the innings.

Miguel Cummins perished for one in a mix-up with Holder over a single and five overs later, Shannon Gabriel desperate dive failed to secure him after he and Holder attempted another suicide single.

Seamer Mohammad Amir claimed three for 63 while left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-32) and Yasir (2-113) finished with two wickets apiece.

A victory or even saving the game looked farfetched at the start when batsman Marlon Samuels departed off the day’s first delivery for four, caught at the wicket edging an uncertain defensive push at one from seamer Mohammad Amir, with West Indies on their overnight 95 for two.

scoreboardJermaine Blackwood batted through the first hour for his 15 before falling lbw to left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz on review, after initially gaining favour with the on-field umpire, to further enhance the odds of a quick Windies defeat.

But with West Indies stuttering on 116 for four, Bravo then anchored the first of two half-century partnerships in adding 77 for the fifth wicket with Chase, to steady the innings.

With Bravo unbeaten on 46 and Chase, 21, West Indies eased to lunch on 154 for four and frustrated Pakistan for an hour afterward before losing another wicket.

The right-handed Chase faced 83 balls in 127 minutes and struck three fours before he was bowled by Yasir on the stroke of the drinks break at 193 for five and West Indies stumbled again in the following over with just one run added, when wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich was yorked by seamer Wahab Riaz for a first ball ‘duck’.

Bravo was unruffled throughout, however, playing the dangerous Yasir with ease and proving a thorn in Pakistan’s side. He reached his half-century off 139 balls in the third over after the resumption but quickened his scoring to reach his second fifty off just 72 balls.

He brought up triple figures three overs before the interval when he slashed seamer Mohammad Amir to the backward point boundary, to be unbeaten on 102 at the break.

Finding an ally in Holder, Bravo helped add a further 69 for the seventh wicket, which proved to be West Indies’ last stand.

The right-handed Holder counted three fours off 127 balls in just over three hours at the crease, and he and Bravo put on 30 runs inside the first hour of the final session, to keep the Windies challenge alive.

But once Bravo paid the price for his solitary indiscretion, the result was never really in doubt.

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