Unsung Bravo fine tunes Test reputation

18 October 2016

Darren Bravo posted his eighth Test hundred, and his fifth in Asia // Getty

Windies left-hander one of the world's most successful batsmen in foreign conditions in recent years

West Indies' fighting final-day chase in the series opener against Pakistan was a promising sign for the Caribbean side as they look to rebuild their shattered Test match reputation.

While they ultimately lost the match by 56 runs, their 289 on day five was an impressive feat in itself; by way of comparison, Australia have failed to post 250 in seven completed fourth innings efforts in Asia over the past decade, averaging 195.

And the man they have come to rely upon has been Darren Bravo, whose match double of 87 and 116 reaffirmed his reputation as one of the world's most versatile batsmen.

Pakistan clinch tense win despite Bravo ton

Shivnarine Chanderpaul's controversial exit, and the absence of a galaxy of short-form stars owing to a long-running feud with the West Indies Cricket Board, has resulted in Bravo quietly but very definitely establishing himself as the key batting figure in a team once feared the world over.

Since debuting in November 2010, he's scored comfortably more runs (3,330 at 41, with eight hundreds) than any of his compatriots, while his fourth innings century against Pakistan was the first by a West Indian in Asia since Sir Viv Richards in 1987, and just the 12th ever by a non-Asian batsman. It also took his average in the fourth innings of Tests to 52 - making him just one of 20 batsmen in Test history to average 50-plus in the final innings.

Quick Single: Pakistan clinch tense win despite Bravo ton

After a disappointing home series against India recently maintained an unusual trend (he averages 51 away and 29 in the Caribbean), Bravo's love affair with Asian conditions has continued; he now has five hundreds and seven fifties from 15 matches on the continent, where he averages 60.

Overall, across the past six years he's one of just eight batsmen worldwide to average 50-plus in away Tests.

In February, Bravo – contrary to the modern-day trend and certainly glaringly so to his countrymen – opted to skip the ICC World T20 tournament in order to play more first-class cricket in the Caribbean, with improvement as a Test batsman the end goal.

"I'm of the firm belief that I have a very big part to play in the resurgence of West Indies cricket in the longer formats of the game," Bravo said at the time.

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"I will like the opportunity to play in our Professional Cricket League because it will put me in good stead and will allow me to achieve those goals that I have aligned myself for the year 2016 and beyond."

Despite the defeat, the 27-year-old's near seven-hour, 249-ball vigil in Dubai is the first vindication of that decision, and it was a performance duly acknowledged by both captains.

"You need Test matches like that and credit to West Indies to put up such a fight," said Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq after the visitors put together their second-longest fourth innings – 109 overs – in away Test matches.

"(The) West Indies batsmen showed good resilience."

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Windies captain Jason Holder saw Bravo's dual hands as the shining lights of the defeat.

"(We're) disappointed we have lost but there are lot of positives," he said. "(Bravo's) was a quality innings.

"He showed a lot of maturity in both innings and you could see determination on his face and hopefully he continues in this vein."

The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from Friday with the third and final Test played in Sharjah from October 30.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

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