When Dwayne Bravo missed the recent Test series in England because of an ankle injury, many feared for the West Indies' chances, because Bravo has become such an integral part of the West Indies team, so a few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that instead of competing in the Test series in the UK Bravo would be staying in South Africa representing the Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
Bravo had a very sucessful time in the IPL, regularly taking wickets and scoring runs at a very good pace, his electric fielding also makes him an asset to any side, and his love and passion for the game of cricket is infectious - the 24-year-old who hails from Santa Cruz in Trinidad loves to be involved in the game in whatever capacity is asked of him.
For the Mumbai Indians Bravo on occasions was given the responsibilty of opening the batting, and in one innings against the Kings XI Punjab he did the unthinkable, and that was to out score and out shine Sachin Tendulkar, as the duo helped Mumbai cruise to victory.
Yesterday, Bravo was called upon to bowl for the West Indies and his variety of quicker and slower balls, outfoxed the majority of India's batsmen. Yusuf Pathan, who can be explosive once again looked dangerous at Lord's, but he mis-read a slower ball from Bravo, attempted to smash him over midwicket for six and was clean bowled, and Bravo finished with figures of four for 38 from his four overs and helped the West Indies which on paper seemed to be a a score that gave the West Indies a chance.
Following Chris Gayle's blistering 88 against Australia, all the talk up in the media centre was that the second half of the contest would be about Gayle versus India. As it ,was despite a few lusty boundaries early in his innings, Gayle was quite subdued and when he was dismissed for 22 the West Indies were 42-2 and India felt they were right in the game. Bravo was promoted to number four to take on the mantle of Gayle to clear the ropes; those are huge shoes to fill but Bravo took it in his stride, and hit a series of glorious inside out cover drives as well as one effortless blow over long on for six as he smashed 66 not out from 36 balls to help the West Indies to a surpisingly easy seven-wicket victory.
Bravo's performance was about as complete as they come, many have their view on the all-rounder playing IPL in South Africa while the West Indies were touring England, but one thing is for sure, his time with the Mumbai Indians has played him into some sparkling form, and that could well be a key ingredient to the West Indies lifting the trophy a week on Sunday.
© Cricket World 2009