Bravo special takes WI to 575

Mumbai, India -- Darren Bravo tormented India’s bowlers with a classy 166 as West Indies racked up a mammoth 575-9 in their first innings on Wednesday, virtually ending the host team’s hopes of inflicting a whitewash in the final Test at the Wankhede Stadium.

The visitors thrashed the home attack on an easy-paced surface on the second day of the third Test before debutant pacer Varun Aaron picked up three wickets in four overs in the last session.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added two more to his overnight tally of two wickets as West Indies, trailing 2-0 in the series, added 308 runs to their overnight total.

Bravo continued his rich vein of form, notching up his third ton in the last six Test inning -- his first career century coming against Bangladesh in Mirpur last month.

“I think I am in pretty good form at this point in time and hopefully it can continue. It was very important for me to stay positive as much as possible,” he said.

“The openers did a tremendous job as well as the Number 3, Kirk Edwards. When you come in on that platform, try and continue from where they left off.”

The top six West Indies batsmen all made half-centuries, forcing India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to resort to desperate measures, including bringing on Sachin Tendulkar to bowl, in search of wickets on a placid pitch.

Off-spinner Ashwin, who went for 154 runs from 51 overs for his four wickets, did not hide his disappointment with the playing surface.

“It is the first time I have seen a wicket like this (at Wankhede). It is similar to the practice wicket to the left of the pitch. I was praying it wasn’t like that,” Ashwin said.

“I don’t know the reason, I’m not a Mumbai boy... Quite disheartening to see the wicket behave the way it did.”

Bravo, the 22-year-old, brought up his second successive ton with an elegant square-driven boundary off Ashwin and celebrated by kissing his bat before raising it aloft along with his cap.

The stylish left-hander, who made 136 in the second innings in the last Test in Kolkata, started the day a straight-driven four off Aaron to go to 1,000 career runs and looked extremely comfortable at the crease throughout his extended stay.

The cousin of former West Indies batting great Brian Lara hit 17 boundaries during his 284-ball stay, the only blemish coming on Tuesday, when Rahul Dravid dropped him at slip on 33 off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.

Bravo became Aaron’s maiden Test wicket when he edged the paceman to Dhoni, going for a drive away from his body.

“I think I became a bit tired. I was suffering from a little bit of flu over the last couple of days and I think it took a toll on me,” Bravo added.

He was hopeful that the fast bowlers in his team could extract some help out of the pitch when India bat next.

“I think the wicket is a decent batting wicket. There is a bit of spin for the spinners but I think our fast bowlers can get something from the wicket the longer they bowl in the right areas,” Bravo said.

“We have Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards who can close in on 90 mph, so we are going to go out there with high energy, we are going to go out there positive and try our best to get their top order in very early.”

Resuming on 267-2, Bravo and Kirk Edwards (86) added 164 for the third wicket before the latter edged paceman Ishant Sharma to the keeper on the stroke of the first drinks break of the day.

Bravo then added 160 for the fourth wicket with Kieran Powell (81) as the tourists recorded a third century partnership of the innings.

Powell, who replaced the injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the team, made the most of his opportunity and hit nine fours before he edged Ojha to Dhoni while going for an extravagant backfoot drive.

Dhoni took five catches behind the stumps but dropped a difficult low catch off Marlon Samuels (61), when the batsman was on 46, off the bowling off Aaron. Samuels went on to complete his 13th half-century before he edged Ashwin to Dravid at slip.

Wed, 11/23/2011 - 05:48