BRAVO WINDIES

The move to throw the ball to Bravo reflected the many ADMIRABLE DECISIONS Lara made that day. He changed his field for Samuels and Gayle, when he realised two men on the off-side weren't enough. Through these two, tall fastish off-spinners, he dried up runs, forcing strokes of desperation, writes S. RAM MAHESH.

India and West Indies produced their second cliff-hanger in two days. The same man bowled the last over. Only, this time he pulled something special out of the bag. Dwayne Bravo had done nothing of note through the match. He had batted briefly, and had made one fine athletic save off his bowling. His three overs for 20 had given little indication of things to follow.

India started the last over needing 11. That they had come this far was courtesy one of the finest innings Yuvraj Singh has played. He'll do well to top this for it had everything — timing, placement, thought, patience.

But as seems to be the case with the mighty in mythologies (Achilles, Odin, Karna, Goliath), both India and Yuvraj fell short when they had it won.

The left-hander through an edge and the most sublime cover drive given the context had reduced the match to two runs in three balls. One for the tie, and Lara — by not bringing men in — encouraged it. Bravo, Lara, and Gayle discussed their options. The crowd dispensed with advice as freely as the alcohol flowed in the stands. "Why you not bowl Edwards man?" offered one a little belatedly.

Out in the middle, the conference continued. "Gayle came up and said the slower ball could do the trick," said the West Indies skipper. "It was in Bravo's mind, and he's got it in his arsenal. He's a very, very special player. He's the kind of guy you need in the side — he's got variety."

Once his slow, low full-toss breached Yuvraj's attempt across the line, Bravo set off on a curving run, arms extended sideways — a run that may have wended its way to the sea had his mates not intervened. If Bravo was motion and unrestrained joy, Yuvraj Singh was stillness and bitter disappointment. On his haunches mid-pitch, he grabbed his helmet's visor.

The move to throw the ball to Bravo reflected the many admirable decisions Lara made that day. He changed his field for Samuels and Gayle, when he realised two men on the off-side weren't enough. Through these two, tall fastish off-spinners, he dried up runs, forcing strokes of desperation. Shot selection deserted India's batsmen — far too many balls were hit in the air, and West Indies caught almost everything they should have and some they shoudn't. India lost wickets early, and the lower-order was under pressure. "It's not something they are used to because they haven't been called upon to do the job that often with the recent success we've had," said Dravid. "It's something we need to work on."

The streak of consecutive chases was broken; it had to happen sometime as the skipper pointed out, but it was ironic the side that has made a habit of chasing down big scores faltered in the face of 199.

"Well, you know someone said in the dressing room that these small totals are a bit tricky," said Dravid. "You lose a few early wickets and it sets butterflies in your stomach. We needed to be 80 or 100 for one in 15 overs, and then it would have gone well. But, unfortunately, we lost early wickets."

West Indies stayed in the hunt thanks to an unbeaten 98 by Ramnaresh Sarwan first up. Ajit Agarkar bowled with great skill and control; Pathan struck early and the islanders slid to 24 for three. "Ajit bowled beautifully," said Dravid. "We decided to give him the new ball because he pitches it up and swings it into Gayle. He did just that and was unlucky not to have taken Lara."

Sarwan, meanwhile, set about the task of playing 50 overs. : "Brian told me to stay till the end and that was what I was looking to do," said the right hander. "They bowled well early on, and I couldn't get it off the square initially." Neat deflections off the hip were his bread-and-butter. When the field spread out, Sarwan drove down the ground and nudged the singles.

He was helped first by Samuels, but the innings that turned it around was wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh's. The little man hit the ball hard and to most parts of the ground. "It wasn't easy batting out there, it was hard work," said Sarwan. "The way Carlton batted took some of the pressure off me." Sarwan himself upped the ante, hitting Pathan for two fours and a six in the 49th over. Precious runs were stolen. "Sarwan, I think played an extra-ordinary innings," said Lara later. "He may not have scored a hundred, but he gave us a competitive target." Sarwan's effort was almost bettered by Yuvraj. Almost.

"I thought Yuvi batted beautifully," said Dravid. "His knock's quality deserved to win it for India. But, all credit to Bravo who bowled a brilliant ball under pressure."

THE SCORES

Second ODI. Sabina Park, Kingston, May 20. West Indies won by one run. Man of the Match: R. Sarwan.

West Indies: C. H. Gayle c Dhoni b Agarkar 0; R. S. Morton lbw b Pathan 1; R. R. Sarwan (not out) 98; B. C. Lara c Dravid b Pathan 14; S. Chanderpaul c Kaif b Harbhajan Singh 10; M. N. Samuels c Dhoni b Yuvraj Singh 19; D. J. Bravo c Raina b Powar 0; C. S. Baugh c Pathan b Powar 21; I. D. R. Bradshaw c Harbhajan Singh b Pathan 12; J. E. Taylor c Dhoni b Agarkar 9; F. H. Edwards (not out) 1; Extras (lb-2, w-8, nb-3) 13; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 198.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-1, 3-24, 4-43, 5-103, 6-105, 7-143, 8-163, 9-197.

India bowling: Pathan 9-2-45-3; Agarkar 10-2-25-2; Harbhajan Singh 10-0-32-1; Patel 7-1-39-0; Powar 10-0-38-2; Yuvraj Singh 4-0-17-1.

India: R. Dravid c Baugh b Bradshaw 11; V. Sehwag c sub b Bradshaw 12; I. K. Pathan c Samuels b Edwards 14; Yuvraj Singh b Bravo 93; M. Kaif c sub b Taylor 4; S. K. Raina c Chanderpaul b Samuels 27; M. S. Dhoni b Taylor 2; A. B. Agarkar c & b Bradshaw 2; R. R. Powar c Taylor b Samuels 12; Harbhajan Singh c & b Gayle 1; M. M. Patel (not out) 2; Extras (lb-4, w-8, nb-5) 17; Total (in 49.4 overs) 197.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-37, 3-51, 4-60, 5-124, 6-130, 7-134, 8-177, 9-187.

West Indies bowling: Edwards 7-2-19-1; Bradshaw 10-0-33-3; Taylor 9-0-49-2; Bravo 3.4-0-29-1; Gayle 10-0-33-1; Samuels 10-0-30-2.