By R Kaushik in Mirpur
West Indies ODI captain played his part in the win over Australia, but said the team didn’t celebrate for too long with bigger battles still to come
In all the emotion surrounding the West Indies’ dramatic win over Australia on Friday (March 28) night, and the flourish with which Darren Sammy took the side home, Dwayne Bravo’s contributions went largely unnoticed. Bravo, the West Indies One-Day International captain, had a pretty good day out – a brilliant catch running in to get rid of James Faulkner which Bravo says was a simple catch he made look spectacular, and then an unbeaten 27 off just 12 deliveries with two fours and two sixes that complemented the skipper’s 34 not out off 13 balls in a Group 2 clash of the ICC World Twenty20 2014.
Faulkner had set the cat among the pigeons with his ‘I don’t particularly like the West Indians’ comment, a statement the defending champion used to pump itself up and celebrated on the field with gusto after Sammy smashed the winning six off the same bowler. Bravo played down the celebrations after the match, quickly pointing out that as satisfying as the win was, it was still only a league match, not the final of the tournament.
“It didn’t last long, the party. We did some stuff in the dressing room,” Bravo said on Sunday (March 30) afternoon, as the team returned to the ground to prepare for its must-win final Super10 tie against Pakistan on Tuesday. “It was an exciting game for us. We were really pumped up for that game. We are pumped up for all the games, but that game was more special for us. We enjoyed the victory and celebrated in the dressing room. We came back to the hotel and had a look at the India-Bangladesh game in the hotel.”
Bravo said there was little danger of the West Indies not turning up for the game against Pakistan. “The intensity will always be there,” he pointed out. “That (the Australia game) wasn’t the semifinal or final. The game against Pakistan is important for both the teams. It is very difficult to predict how the teams will play. I know it will be a nail-biting game. Come that game, we will be aware of what exactly we need to do. It’s going to be a very good cricket match. This is a very tough group and the Group of Death. We need to play well to get out of this Group of Death; we look forward to playing in the semifinal.”
In these days when players play in professional Twenty20 leagues across the world, it is difficult to carry a grudge for too long, and Bravo said players from the two teams didn’t have any problems as such, and that it wouldn’t be difficult to share a dressing room in franchise cricket with Australia cricketers.
“We see each other in the lobby, obviously that happened in the field. Today morning, I was having a chat with (Brad) Haddin, (Aaron) Finch and (David) Warner about the Big Bash League. Speaking for myself, we are all good friends off the cricket field. I play a lot with them in the Big Bash. That game was really heated. We really needed to win. We were better placed in the group than them. The comments before the game were played up a bit, but what happens on the field stays there.
“We are all professional cricketers. They want to win and they will do whatever it takes to try and get a win. Sometimes, we use it for motivation and some other teams, we retaliate. We are not a side that (generally) retaliates. We try and prepare well and be expressive on the cricket field. At the hotel, we see each other, meet each other and have a quick chat. We may not be best of friends or go out for dinner. We play together for the Big Bash and the IPL and some of them come and play in the Caribbean Premier League too. With all these leagues in the world, you end up developing a better relationship. Look at the India-West Indies games, the relationship is like one love and it’s like one country playing. Thanks to IPL, it allows that. It’s a good thing for international cricketers. Apart from money, it also brings you closer to another cricketer from another country and allows you to become friends.”
Back to more cricket talk, and the approach to the chase against Australia when Sammy joined Bravo, with the West Indies needing 49 in 31 deliveries. “It’s actually achievable because of the experience we have got in the IPL. Sammy’s IPL experience also came into play and he can withstand pressure. We know their bowlers will also be under pressure because one side of the ground is very short and in those kinds of scenarios, we expect the bowler to make mistakes as we had a lot of wickets in hand. Sammy could play his normal game. He is one of the cleanest hitters in the game today. My job at that time was to just run between the wickets and give him as much strike as possible and to just calm him down. All in all, it worked for us. (But) I hope we don’t have to depend on him so much.”
Sammy has gone on record as saying that the West Indies still hasn’t peaked, and Bravo was asked if the win against Australia could be a potential turning point for the current ICC World Twenty20 champion. “It’s always good to win games, especially against opponents you respect a lot. It’s always nice to finish the games that run so close. It shows that you have fighting spirit and a never-say-die attitude. We just look to get better and better every game. The captain says that we haven’t played to potential, I don’t think any team has played to potential. We want to have a look at the things we can improve on and analyse our strengths and weaknesses and improve the areas that we are short in. We enjoyed our victory against Australia, but the Pakistan game is the most important for us. We need to win that game and get to the semifinal first.”