The West Indies are once again, staring at another series loss. But that’s normal right? It happens on any given Sunday, right it?
So what can be really done if they are to avoid adding to their embarrassing string of losses?
Another loss here against Bangladesh in the Second ODI would mean the hosts would complete the capitulation of the West Indies.
What’s disheartening- especially if you are a Windies fan- is that in the ODIs held in the Caribbean and later, in the USA, a couple of months earlier, the Windies had lost.
They were hosting Bangladesh then.
A loss at home is miserable.
But maybe not so much for the Windies, a side habitual of losing.
Still, any mortal competing on any cricketing yard wishes to bounce back. There’s always this thing about settling scores.
An optimist would’ve predicted the Windies would’ve wanted to come hard at their opponents, which, in the fundamental cricketing lexicon would’ve meant approaching Bangladesh with a lot more caution and calm-mindedness than seen before.
But just what did we see in the series opener at the Sher-e-Bangla?
The hosts were unable to register 200 on the board.
Typical Windies; typical spineless surrender.
In the end, even sneaking some impressive Bangladeshi wickets didn’t assuage the helpless viewers on the TV, you felt.
Darren Bravo, a vital name on the playing eleven, was to have been the key changemaker or so you thought- didn’t you?
For his advantage, his task was cut out for him. All he had to do was to hang in there and score.
Holder wasn’t there. So, a senior figure was missing.
The cricketing return of Russell, now sounding like a joke- where on earth is he anyways when the team needs him- hasn’t reduced the team’s woes.
Thankfully, team selection didn’t go berserk as to be playing Kraigg Brathwaite in the limited overs.
A rather sedate Marlon Samuels was in the ranks too.
But in the end, he couldn’t score anything worthy of too much attention.
Yet, in the middle of it all, the presence of Darren Bravo drew appreciation and it goes without saying, a baffling sense of curiosity.
After all, the ‘Lara version 2.0’ was going to bat after missing out for two full years. Hell, that’s a long absence.
His last ODI appearance came in 2016.
“Come on Darren,” many might have cheered on as hopes rode high on the charismatic leftie to do something special.
If anyone anticipated some silken cover drives or a few elegantly crafted deft touches on to the leg side, then how could you blame them?
Just that, none of those ever came.
Bravo failed to get going
It wasn’t that he just couldn’t get the bat onto the ball; it’s just that he seemed a tad bit carried away or flustered in trying to do that on one occasion too many for his own good.
Attempting wild hogs and mistimed heaves on Mashrafe became a somewhat underwhelming sight from the onset of the maiden ODI.
Failing to get Mehidy past the cover boundary became another dull scenario.
It didn’t help that he could neither sweep the ball nor find a way to edge it or attempt to steal a few singles from the third-man boundary with no man manning the outfield from the onset of over number 20.
In the end, 19 runs scored off 50 balls wasn’t really Darren Bravo. This wasn’t remotely the kind of guy who seemed to be at the top of his craft in 2014-15 when his fiery 100 against South Africa, deflated the visiting Proteas in an ODI series also featuring Australia in the Caribbean.
This wasn’t the Darren Bravo who seemed ready to put up a fight, as seen in the sensational Test series conducted two cricketing seasons ago in the heart of the UAE in 2016.
Back in 2016, Bravo produced a classic in the form of his patient vigil fighting the Pakistanis under a brightly lit night sky in the UAE in a Test featuring the pink ball.
To this day, those who saw that century that all but took his West Indies home were reminded of Bravo doing a Lara.
After all, this is what elegant albeit fighting Test batsmen do. After all, this is what the young left-hander signed up to do for the West Indies when, all of a sudden, his career fell apart following a bitter fallout on the social media with the cricket board.
But let’s put all of that behind us.
That was then, in the UAE.
In the current scheme of things, Bravo doesn’t have the scintillating night lights of a Dubai or an Abu Dhabi.
What’s more? There’s no familiar presence of Holder. The big players seem more active social media than on green fields. They are happy being the poster boys of rebellion while the national team sticks out like a sore thumb.
Bravo is his own man. He’s been made to return. This is an opportunity to contribute. That’s the big thing. The challenge, however, is, that his time is brief.
The task is enormous.
He must get back at doing what he did then, as seen in his dogged duels in New Zealand. Who can forget that double hundred? Who can let go off that match-winning 82 against England in 2015 at Barbados?
Similarly, maybe there’s a sense in recollecting his heroics against an Amir and Yasir Shah-powered Pakistan as seen in 2016.
Bravo was against a strong bowling attack.
He was against some mind-bogglingly good spin bowling then. Right now, his challenge isn’t getting any easier. Mehidy and Shakib are going to confront him again. If he could hold up Amir and Yasir at bay, why can’t he do some of that now?
There’s the same reason that might have pushed some adrenaline inside his veins: the desire to uphold the dignity of his embattled West Indies.
If he could do it back then, why can’t Bravo- a firm striker of the ball as also an elegant timer of it- do that now?
What should silently inspire him is to reminisce his past. He’s been a sorted batsman who’s handled himself against spin and with a little more flavor, something that’s lacking completely from a group that actually resembles a clan of headless chicken.
On top of that, he would be mighty well advised to play a YouTube run of cousin Brain Lara slaying the bowlers.
There’s nothing that Bravo doesn’t have in his batting that doesn’t excite the fan.
The one-leg up on the on-side whilst executing a powerful pull is really Leonardo Da Vinci painting a batsman hungry for runs akin to a famished priest sitting down for supper.
The dancing down the track reminds one of a ballerina’s composure and balance. These are glorious sights that warrant an award.
Then there’s the awesome silence and the flashy glare that puts bowlers to their deserving place. When’s Darren Bravo going to do this or at least some of it?
An old saying says, for doing anything great, there’s no better time than now.
Maybe, what should motivate the Trinidadian, is that his cousin would’ve never backed off from taking his opponents head-on.
Lara wasn’t known to relent.
The issue with Bravo isn’t that he’s seeming to relent, but that he doesn’t seem to be in his groove either.
Maybe the time is now, in the second ODI?