West Indies allrounder says self-belief and momentum is with the team, acknowledges spin likely to play big role in ICC World Twenty20 semifinals
For the second time in as many games, Dwayne Bravo played an influential role with the bat in a West Indies victory at the ICC World Twenty20 2014, his 26-ball 46 on Tuesday (April 1) night not only setting up an 84-run win over Pakistan but also a place in the semifinal for the defending champion.
Bravo, who had smashed an unbeaten 27 in a tense finish against Australia on Friday night, launched a sensational onslaught on Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal that helped the West Indies amass 82 runs in the last five overs, Darren Sammy weighing in with 42 not out off 20 deliveries..
“In those situations, the best of them all go for runs,” said the Man of the Match. “We had nothing to lose, we were under pressure. So I said to Sammy, as long as we stay still, don't worry about picking Ajmal or trying to rotate, just stay still, keep your eyes on the ball. We are powerful enough if we get close to the ball to hit it over the ropes. Our aim was to get at least 135 to 140 with the start we got, but the self-belief we have, the form and the power we have, the momentum went with us, we finished positively and got to 160.”
The West Indies made just 61 in the first 10 overs and was 84 for 5 after 15. “This is the first game that we lost wickets in the first six, we lost two wickets, so we were trying to consolidate but at the same time, whenever we got a boundary, we kept losing a wicket again,” Bravo pointed out. “So in the middle overs, it calmed down. We've proved ourselves, in Twenty20 cricket we know how the game plays. If you take the game right down to the end, anything is possible, as long as we don't give up and keep faith and have that self-belief that if we bat 20 overs, we're going to get a decent total. But we have to bat 20 overs, so at no point did we let what happened in the middle overs get the better of us. That comes with experience and self-belief. We still had (Andre) Russell and (Sunil) Narine to bat, so it's good we did not panic. We showed in the Australia game what the difference can be as long as we have clean hitters at the wicket, so that's our aim, that's our strong point and we use it to the best of our ability.”
There was some chat on the field when Ahmed Shehzad and Kamran Akmal, the Pakistan openers, came out to chase 167, but Bravo smiled broadly as he spoke of what the talk was. "It was all bluff, we were just saying things that have no meaning,” he grinned. “When we walk into bat, Akmal, Shahzad started saying 'Lot of pressure'... But those guys we have a very good relationship off the field, so it's nothing important, all words, nothing serious, no meaning, we're just making noise, trying to make them feel the pressure. We know if you put pressure on them, they're definitely going to crumble. We just make noise and have fun and they give it... So it works.”
The celebrations were a lot more muted than against Australia, seeing which many might have mistakenly believed that the West Indies had already won the tournament. “No need for that big celebration, Pakistan today,” Bravo offered. “Two very good teams, very similar, you never know what to expect. Australia was a bit heated for us. That was a very important game for us and we wanted to prove to ourselves and prove a point that at the end of the day, we're all cricketers, all human beings, we play this game and we should respect each other, we're soon going to finish and cricket is going to go on.
“It's important that we leave our legacy as players, not only West Indian players but cricketers. We have young kids looking up to us, so I don't see the sense in trying to sledge the opposition, that actually gets us going. West Indies is a team that you should try not to upset. We don't step on anyone, we play hard, we play with a smile on our face, we compete fairly, whether we win or lose it doesn't matter as long as we have a good game.”
Between them, Narine and Samuel Badree, the two frontline West Indies spinners, took 6 for 26 in eight overs to derail the Pakistan chase. "Their stats speak for themselves, they're No. 1 and No. 2, so it's good to have the two of them in our team,” said Bravo. “Narine and Badree are both from Trinidad & Tobago, they understand each other very well. They both work hard at their game, so we're very happy to have them in our ranks. The game was set up in the top by Badree and (Krishmar) Santokie, that allowed Narine to come and finish off the game. It's good to have someone like Narine in the middle overs, Pakistan have Ajmal, India have (Amit) Mishra and (R) Ashwin, coming up against Sri Lanka, they have (Ajantha) Mendis and (Rangana) Herath as well, so the tournament has a lot of good spinners, Imran Tahir for South Africa also. Spin is doing very well, every team has a quality spinner, I'm happy we have two.”
Having played all its matches at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium would give the West Indies no advantage over Sri Lanka, coming off four games in Chittagong, Bravo insisted. “Obviously we played most of our games here, that's good for us but at the same time, Sri Lanka are used to the conditions more than us,” he said. “They play more cricket in Bangladesh than us, they just won the Asia Cup. It's a semifinal, two very good teams, finalists in the last World T20, so it's going to be a very good game. We respect Sri Lanka very highly and looking forward to the challenge.”