Centurion Bravo leads West Indies dominance

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Old 31-Oct-2011
Harpreet Seehra
Centurion Bravo leads West Indies dominance

West Indies 355 and 207 for 3 (Bravo 100*, Kirk Edwards 86) lead Bangladesh 231 (Shakib 73, Naeem 45, Fidel Edwards 5-63) by 331 runs

West Indies consolidated their hold over the second Test, moving from a position of control to complete dominance by extending their lead to 331 with Darren Bravo, who reached his maiden international ton in his 10th Test off the last ball of the day, and Kirk Edwards laying the platform to shut Bangladesh out of contention through a stand worth 151. On a track where spinners found some turn and bite, the Bangladesh bowlers let themselves down, were not backed up by their fielders and appeared to be beating a retreat with spread-out fields when the need of the hour was quick wickets and a strong comeback.

The spin-strong hosts would have been encouraged by the assistance the pitch offered Devendra Bishoo and Marlon Samuels in the morning session; West Indies took little over an hour to polish off the last three wickets of the Bangladesh innings. There were rough patches on either side of the crease that the slow bowlers targeted, and they promised a tougher outing for the batsmen in the second innings. The run-out of Kraigg Brathwaite in the first over and the needless, and failed, attempt by Kieran Powell to clear mid-on after a solid start gave Bangladesh hope of limiting the damage to manageable proportions. But Bravo's counter-attack, Edwards' unshakeable determination that only slipped shortly before stumps and a failure to put the pair under pressure cost the home team.

Starting with a packed in-field and catchers close in, the Bangladesh spinners tempted Bravo with flight, aiming at the rough, but were caught off-guard as he responded with aggression. Off his second ball, he smashed Shakib over his head and launched him over the long-on boundary in his next over. Shakib slipped his sliders and Nasir Hossain got some turn but their efforts were inadequate against a calculated Bravo onslaught that put Bangladesh quickly on the defensive. He struck Nasir over mid-on, drove him through the covers and pulled him over midwicket, all in the same over. Soon enough, the field was pushed back, triggering a routine flow of runs to those stationed at long-on and long-off.

His quest for runs prompted Bravo to nick Shakib to Mushfiqur Rahim and then Imrul Kayes at first slip - both chances were spilled, drawing a smile of resignation on Shakib's face. Edwards was content to cede the floor to his partner and rotated the strike comfortably, driving through the V, using the sweep and gradually laying the stage for his second century of the game. He was the recipient of a spate of low full tosses from the Bangladesh slow bowlers but also dealt soundly with those that turned; he drove Shakib twice through the extra cover for four and was equally assured on the back foot, punching him to the boundary despite there being a deep cover. Though not one to take unnecessary risks, he surprised a few when he took on Shahadat Hossain, thumping him over mid-on and clearing the ropes.

Barring a mistimed pull that landed inches short of Shakib at midwicket, Edwards experienced no major hiccups and looked to become the first West Indies batsman in 10 years to score a century in each innings. His pursuit was cut short by a momentary lapse in concentration when he flicked too early against a full delivery from Suhrawadi Shuvo - who hardly spun the ball - and was bowled.

Bravo toned down in the final session, the stream of singles continuing uninterrupted however. Only two fours came off his bat post tea, one a streaky edge off Rubel Hossain - who bowled too short in his return spell - and the other a punch off Shakib past cover. As nightwatchman Kemar Roach kept Bravo nervous company on the day's dying stages, Shuvo gave him an anxious moment when he scraped past the outside edge in the final over but a cut through point off that last ball that fetched him two drew a roar, an animated celebration and eventually tears, summing up the relief of having reached a most cherished milestone.

The reckless top-order approach on the second day, and missed opportunities and lack of effectiveness with the ball on the third, have left Bangladesh facing a formidable challenge of saving the Test, let alone winning it, on a pitch that's getting increasingly trickier.

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