Reporting from Beijing
Trinidad and Tobago’s 4x100 metres women relay team made history, not once but twice in the same event.
The future of West Indies cricket came to the fore yesterday as young batsmen Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite both scored centuries to put the home team in a very strong position against New Zealand on the second day of the Second Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain. Replying to New Zealand’s first innings effort of 221, the men in maroon closed the day on 310 for five for a lead of 89 runs. Bravo ended a lean spell by scoring his first Test century on home soil, while Brathwaite got a maiden Test century, as they batted the visitors out of the contest. While fans were looking at the Brazil versus Mexico World Cup clash in the Carib Beer Stand, Bravo and Brathwaite were entertaining those still interested in the Test match out on the field. Bravo, with his half brother Dwayne in the stands urging him on, got his 6th Test century and celebrated football-style by charging down the ground after getting to his milestone. Bravo has endured a tough year and the stroke that brought his century came as great relief...and he let it out in his celebrations. He ran and ran and just did not stop. The gate man at Tragarete Road would have panicked, as he could have ran completely out the Oval, such was his delight.
Brathwaite at the other end showed an appetite for Test cricket and was patient in his approach. On a pitch that remained good for batting, he concentrated on each and every ball and although his was an innings not of the calypso type, he gave West Indies that solid outlook which has deserted the team for far too long. Bravo threw it away towards the end of play, falling to Williamson for 109. The partnership with Brathwaite realised 182 runs for the fourth wicket. Brathwaite soldiered on and minutes before the close he popped one back to the impressive Boult, having compiled 129 runs in 371 minutes, facing 258 balls and striking 13 fours. At the close Shivnarine Chanderpaul was unbeaten on four and with him the second nightwatchman for the innings Kemar Roach on zero.
Earlier, New Zealand started off the day well by removing nightwatchman Sulieman Benn for four. What transpired after was something that was woefully missing in West Indies cricket and that was calypso batting. It came in the form of Kirk Edwards who took the attack to the Kiwis. Man of the match in the first Test, Mark Craig was treated like a second division bowler and clobbered all over the place. At the other end Brathwaite was playing the perfect role of rotating the strike and West Indies cricket looked good. Edwards raced to his half century off just 55 balls with the help of seven attractive fours and a huge six. He looked ripe for the big score when a short moment of indecision led to his downfall. With the lunch interval around the corner the right hander went into his shell and was caught behind off Ish Sodhi. The leg-spinner flighted one that pitched on off stump and the appreciable turn took it past the bat of Edwards brushing the edge and into the hands of wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
Bravo came in and played two wonderful shots for four before the interval and he trudged off in the company of Brathwaite 48 not out with the score at 124/3. The second session of play belonged totally to the West Indies as the stubborn Braithwaite and flamboyant Bravo counted 115 runs without being parted. Rain made an unwelcomed appearance at 1.57 pm and the covers were on for an hour-and-a-half. This would now dictate that the Test gets underway at 9.30 from today, until the end on Friday. Bravo, who has struggled since taking a double century off the same opponents in December last year, showed glimpses of his elegance as he guided the younger Brathwaite during their association. In the process both men brought up their half centuries. The first to the mark was Brathwaite who brought up his fifth half ton off 100 balls with six fours. Bravo soon followed getting his ninth off 82 balls with eight boundaries much to the delight of the sparse crowd on hand. With patience being the order of the day, Brathwaite, who’s Test strike rate is the lowest for any batsman since his debut in May 2011, led the way.
At 4.36pm, Test match temparament was translated into big runs, when Brathwaite dabbed Kane Williamson to third man to complete his maiden Test century. He worked for 281 minutes in compiling his ton, in which time he negotiated 199 balls, eleven of which he sent to the fence.
West indies vs N Zealand
N Zealand 1st inns 221
W Indies 1st inns
C Gayle b Boult 1
K Brathwaite c & b Boult 129
S Benn b Southee 4
K Edwards c Watling b Sodhi 55
D Bravo c Craig b Williamson 109
S Chanderpaul not out 4
K Roach not out 0
Extras lb5, w3 8
Total 5 wkts 310
Fall of wkts: 4, 16, 109, 291, 310.
Bowling: T Boult 21-5-30-2 (2w), T Southee 22-6-60-1, M Craig 19-2-81-0, J Neesham 10-0-59-0, I Sodhi 12-2-57-1, K Williamson 7-2-18-1.
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