It’s a simple numeral. It’s a harmless figure. It’s not even a meaningful statistic unless it’s put into a perspective. In hindsight, it’s one more than the West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite’s current age, actually.
And, in case, you are a die-hard West Indies fan, someone who buried his head into his hands seeing the Test series against India, you probably know what this signifies.
That’s the number of runs scored by Kraigg Brathwaite against India
Now, he’s no longer in the Virat Kohli-land; a minefield of challenges that turned a war-zone where relentless questions were posed by Jadeja, Shami and the rest.
But the big bully was Kuldeep Chawla.
He was the ringmaster, although, someone who didn’t have to tame a lion, for the West Indies were anything but that- weren’t they?
Even as Kraigg Brathwaite sits away from the discomfort of battling India, his trial hasn’t ended. In fact, it’s only just gotten tougher; the path ahead much trickier, his woes exacerbated by the absence of the man in charge: Jason Holder.
Moreover, one doesn’t quite know the seriousness of Kraigg’s reply when asked if he was ready for the two-Test challenge. To this inane question, he promptly replied, “Yes, I am.”
But is he? Having scored 26 runs from the past 4 innings doesn’t quite seem to answer the current puzzle.
It’s a puzzle, isn’t it?
West Indies’ most reliable batsman, one who seems to embody the temperament of a Chanderpaul didn’t even last for a 100- ball inning on any occasion of India.
Well, you could say, every batsman has off-days, it’s just that Brathwaite’s dismissals didn’t seem to come at the expanse of unplayable bowling.
Let it be asked. It’s a fair question, with all due regards.
Was Kuldeep Yadav absolutely out of reach of a batsman like Kraigg Brathwaite- the scorer of 4 fifties of his 17 in Tests against India?
If not, then what went wrong?
For a batsman who’s forged his game on the same principles you found in a Chanderpaul and admire in Roston Chase- a few years junior to the current captain- Kraigg Brathwaite has found respect for defying bowling attacks.
On a scale of 1 to 10, you’d give him 8 on his defensive abilities, and probably 8 and a half or 9 on his ability to contribute to his team.
Just that, now, in the Tests against Bangladesh, Kraigg will have to deliver his A-game; meaning provide a 10 on 10 sorts of knock, of the kinds that only he can produce.
And let it be known that there’s a sense of occasion to it.
The team is, once again, down in the dumps. The current West Indies unit are a side for whom, let’s say the ICC Test rankings don’t matter.
It’s not that they cannot win Test. They just beat Sri Lanka at home. A year back, they devastated Pakistan at Barbados. A year couple of years back, they won yet again at Barbados- Kraigg Brathwaite’s home ground- against England, whom they’d also defeat in England, in a Test match labelled by modern critiques as ‘unforgettable.’
In simple words, the Ian Bishop reference to the 2017 West Indian victory would be, “Remember the date.” August 29, 2017 it was.
Interestingly, in each of the above occasion, Kraigg Brathwaite was part of the line-up. He powered a hard-fought 43 in a low-scoring second inning outing for his team, the unit accumulating 268. He would be overshadowed by Shi Hope’s defiant 90, a knock much more precious than a solid hundred on that occasion.
A few months later, at Headingley, Brathwaite would fire a hundred.
Interestingly, he would also make a 95 in the first inning. His effort would yield a collective 229 runs. He’d hang in there for 429 deliveries.
Yet, in both innings, he would find himself overshadowed by a familiar name, perceptibly a more scalable star, a more relatable, tangible hero, someone ideal to shine as the identity of Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up” rabble-rousing poster boy: Shai Hope.
This is Kraigg Brathwaite, a man who loves a good challenge and doesn’t make a show of it, also a man, who is facing some fire, one’s sure.
Let it be repeated, the absence of fellow Bajan Jason Holder is not in the least the only issue.
His batsmen are giving him a hard time. Unfortunately, the highly talented Hetmyer seems to have become a designer of his own undoing.
Probably, for Shimron, calming down is about as hard as playing big strokes is for Brathwaite.
Apart from Hope- last seen in massive form in the ODIs- and Chase- the only troublemaker for India in the Tests- there’s hardly anyone that can give rest to what might be tense nerves.
On top of it, when one sees the likes of Kieran Powell, 106 runs including an 83 from 4 innings in India as the side’s opener, you aren’t really sure what to expect.
The biggest mysteries for their cricket is the sedate run of form that Powell has shown. Is he just a modest collector of runs, someone who’ll keep you on the edge of the seat firing some gorgeous straight drives and flicks off his hips only to return back offering catching practice?
What’s Bishoo going to do?
He was harmless as a toothless canine on pitches that offered turn and a great purchase to spinners in India.
Not that the surfaces he’s going to play on are any different. Does Kraigg Brathwaite have a plan for him? How effective can Holder’s usual deputy be? Should he not be tempted into having Hope and Chase as his close mates this tour, the cerebral troika that can offer light and guidance?
For, if it’s not these three, then who will it be?
For starters, it might not be a bad idea for Kraigg Brathwaite to run a flashback of his own performances against Bangladesh when Shakib’s team came calling in the Caribbean a few months ago.
Back-t0-back hundreds were struck from the top of the order by a top-notch batsman at North Sound, in Antigua and Kingston Jamaica.
Time for Kraigg to make use of the scoreboards and try and repeat that effort. Should he get even closer, we’ll have a live wire of a Test series.