New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) Darren Bravo’s stylish knock was not enough to swell the West Indies score beyond 222 as a three-pronged South African spin attack bowled them out in 47.3 overs in a World Cup Group B match here Thursday.
Darren, an exciting left-hander, struck 73 off 82 balls with eight fours and a six, raising a stand of 111 runs with Devon Smith (36) after the first-over dismissal of Chris Gayle by Johan Botha (2-48).
But the West Indies lost the plot in the final overs, with debutant leg-spinner Imran Tahir bagging four wickets for 41 and Dale Steyn (3-24) doing a clinical moping up operation of the tail. The West Indies, who at one stage were well placed at 113/2, showed a clear lack of ideas and application in not getting a more challenging total.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (31) and Dwayne Bravo (40) looked in command as they put on 78 runs for the fifth wicket, but once they were separated, the West Indies struggled in the slog overs.
The pitch at Ferozeshah Kotla, which was hosting its first match after a one-year ban for producing a “dangerous” wicket for a India-Sri Lanka game in 2009, looked a belter and the South Africans should not find it difficult to get to the target, given their depth in batting.
South African captain Graeme Smith, who elected to bowl, came with a bagful of tricks. He picked three spinners — Botha, Robin Peterson and Pakistan born Imran.
And then Smith had another ace up his sleeve as he opened the bowling with off-spinner Botha, reminding one of Deepak Patel, the off-spinner who opened the New Zealand attack in the 1992 World Cup.
Botha responded with the prize wicket of Chris Gayle with the third ball.
The ball pitched outside off and turned a bit away from Gayle, who edged it to first slip Jacques Kallis. It was apparent from then on that the pitch would help the spinners. There was more drama in the first over as Botha rapped Darren’s pad off the last ball and South Africa went for a referral after the umpire turned down the appeal.
Darren then looked like a man on mission. The half brother of all-rounder Dwayne and a second cousin of Brian Lara entertained the spectators with his striking range of strokes.
Darren is highly rated and draws instant comparison with Lara because of his diminutive frame and his batting stance has a striking semblance to that of the West Indian genius. The youngster did not disappoint as he stroked freely, taking on the South African attack with authority. He struck Steyn for two fours when the fast bowler erried in his line in the second over.
Darren made his intentions clear as he cover drove Steyn for a four and then hit veteran Jacques Kallis for two sweetly timed boundaries. He disdainfully pulled the first one over mid-on and then sent the other towards long-off.
A six off Tahir over mid-on showed that Darren is equally good against spinners.
As Darren loooked to be cruising along for a deserving century, Botha provided the breakthrough, trapping him lbw. Smith followed soon, caught and bowled by Tahir, becoming the leg-spinner’s ODI debut wicket.
Dwayne struck three sixes with Chanderpaul holding his end up. But Dwayne was run out after a mix up and Chanderpaul fell to Tahir, triggering a late collapse. The last five wickets fell for just 14 runs.