QUEENSTOWN – Darren Bravo gave evidence that he could unlock the potential of the West Indies batting in the forthcoming Test series against New Zealand, with a masterly hundred in a warm-up match on Saturday.
The left-hander hit a typically classy 135 that was the rock upon which the Windies built their reply of 329 for six to the New Zealand “A” first innings total of 308 for three declared, at the close on the second day of the three-day match at John Davies Oval in New Zealand.
Shamarh Brooks supported with a typically stylish 80, opener Kraigg Brathwaite made an obdurate 47 and stand-in captain Roston Chase added a solid 42 in a show of strength from the Caribbean side’s top order.
Prior to the Tour, chief selector Roger Harper said: “We’re hoping that the return of Bravo will add some solidity and leadership at the top of the order. We hope it will help us lay the foundations to build big totals. He’s been making runs consistently in every format.”
Bravo, 31, one of the most capped members of the West Indies Test squad on the Tour of New Zealand with 54 matches behind him, fulfilled Harper’s expectations in a little more than 4 1/2 hours at the crease, after he started the day on eight.
He cracked 13 fours and five sixes from 214 balls and shared successive century stands with Brathwaite and Brooks that paved the way for a strong batting performance from the Windies.
Bravo raced towards his hundred in a volley of strokes, mostly off left-arm leg-spinner Michael Rippon.
He moved towards the 90s with two sixes – both lofted leg-side hits – and added a third six and a four off the same bowler to power through the 90s to get within touching distance of the milestone.
He reached the 100-run mark in anti-climactic fashion, turning his 177th ball – from Blair Tickner – through square leg for a single.
Bravo and Brathwaite batted through the morning session after West Indies resumed from their overnight total of 17 for one. The two carrying the visitors to lunch on 116 for one.
The pair had added 112 for the second wicket, when Brathwaite was trapped lbw to Jacob Duffy with the first delivery after the interval and hobbled off the park after the ball struck him plumb on his left in-step.
The Windies were 116 for two, but Brooks came to the crease and got into stride with a languid drive through cover off Duffy, and with Bravo carried the Caribbean side to 215 for two at tea, with little or no trouble.
After tea, Bravo raced to his hundred and had put on 122 with Brooks for the third wicket, when he was caught at deep cover off left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra in the fourth over after the break.
West Indies were 238 for three, but Brooks continued to plunder the New Zealand “A” attack, which does not feature any bowlers likely to gain international selection in the forthcoming Test series.
Brooks, however, continued merrily and reached 50 from 105 balls with a single to long-on off the home team’s captain Cole McConchie, bowling his uncomplicated off-spin.
Brooks put on 71 for the fourth wicket with Chase and carried the Windies past the New Zealand “A” total before top-edging a lazy pull at a short delivery from Nathan Smith and was caught at square leg.
In the closing stages, Jermaine Blackwood missed out on a chance for valuable time in the middle, when he was caught at mid-on off Rippon for eight, and Chase was bowled by Sean Solia to a delivery that appeared to keep low.
The first Test between New Zealand and West Indies starts on December 3 at Seddon Park in Hamilton and the second Test begins on December 11 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. —CMC
2nd day of a three-day tour match
NEW ZEALAND “A” 1st Innings
308 for three declared
WEST INDIES 1st Innings
(overnight 17 for one)
K Brathwaite lbw b Duffy 47
J Campbell b Tickner 4
DM Bravo c Solia b Ravindra 135
S Brooks c Conway b Smith 80
*R Chase b Solia 42
J Blackwood c Solia b Rippon 8
+S Dowrich not out 1
S Moseley not out 0
Extras (lb11, w1) 12
TOTAL (6 wkts, 98 overs) 329
N Bonner, J da Silva, R Cornwall, S Gabriel, C Holder, A Joseph, P McSween, R Reifer, K Roach, J Seales to bat.
Position: West Indies lead by 21 with four first innings wickets standing.
Players-a-side: 15 (11 bat, 11 field)
Umpires: C Brown, W Knights.
Match referee: G Baxter.