It didn’t really bring the sluggish day to life, or create much of a stir in the stands and on the trees at the Jawaharlal Nehru National College of Engineering (JNNCE) ground. But when Kraigg Brathwaite stepped out of his crease and muscled a Bhargav Bhatt delivery just over the long-on fence, the West Indies A dressing-room celebrated the ‘event’ with high-fives and raucous laughter. A Brathwaite six is an exceedingly rare occurrence.
The ominous clouds and the heavy drizzle perhaps had something to do with the 20-year-old’s uncharacteristic aggression. Having scored 92 in Mysore and 82 here in the first innings, Brathwaite wouldn’t have wanted the Shimoga weather to foil his hopes this time.
The unexpected six was followed by a flurry of boundaries as Brathwaite moved into the 90s before playing an exquisite late cut off Bhatt to bring up his fifth first-class ton just a few minutes before another shower brought the second unofficial Test to a close with the Barbados opener unbeaten on 104. Brathwaite’s fluent knock was a solitary highlight as the game drew to a drab finish with the visitors finishing on 223/3, the JNNCE pitch remaining as placid as ever.
Till he struck that six, Brathwaite had been his usual dogged self, tucking singles into the leg-side or opening the face of his bat gently to pick up runs behind point. He didn’t play one shot in anger and his defensive strokes against pace and spin exuded a feeling that he was batting for his dear life rather than to score runs.
The young opener, who has played nine Tests for the West Indies, has shown signs of an enhanced repertoire of strokes over the last two weeks. But despite his scores here, Brathwaite, whom his skipper Kirk Edwards later described as a ‘special player who will play 100 Test matches’, will not return to India in November with the senior team, having failed to win back his place in the Test squad.
Playing the perfect foil
Narsingh Deonarine, though, will be part of Darren Sammy’s team. The Guyanese all-rounder showed just why he’s always been touted