West Indies' Darren Bravo - the Jekyll and Hyde of batting

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Darren Bravo.

Batting style in modern times is pretty well set. There are those who excel in white-ball cricket, capable of pushing the scoring when the situation demands.

Then there are those who are more at ease in the Test format, capable of grinding down the opposition and bat for session after session. There are not many of the second variety in cricket nowadays, but you get the point.

You do find batsmen at the extreme ends of both spectrum – smashing close to a dozen sixes in a white-ball game and batting for seemingly the entire day for just a fifty in red-ball matches.

So, how would you react if the same batsmen did both just months apart?

West Indies batsman Darren Bravo took cricket fans back to the era of ‘tough’ batting during the second Test against England in Antigua.

The scoreboard says Bravo made 50 off 216 balls in a total of 306 with just two hits to the fence and one over it. But you had watch the game to appreciate the quality of that knock on a minefield of a pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium.

Bravo was hit on the forearm and fingers. The ball spat from good length all day on Friday and Saturday. When Shimron Hetmyer got out for a quick 21, the Windies were 186-5 in reply to England’s 187. On that pitch, England could have easily blown the rest of the batsmen away for 220 odd and gone about posting a challenging fourth innings target.

But Bravo dug in. Stuart Broad kept teasing him with full away swingers with the second new ball but Bravo abstained. He took multiple hits to the body, got visibly frustrated but carried on. He was the last man out.

That 216-ball knock is one of the finest Test innings seen in a long time for its discipline, application and bravery – at par with what India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara did while facing more than 1,200 balls during the recent Australia Test series.

It was the left-handed Bravo who ensured West Indies gained a 119-run lead, blunting the English bowlers and keeping them out in the sun. That is set the stage for an era-defining Test series win over England makes the innings one of the very best.

Bravo’s knock in Antigua couldn’t have been farther from the innings he played for the Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament last August.

Then, chasing 213 against St Lucia Stars, Bravo plundered an unbeaten 94 from 36 balls with six fours and 10 sixes. That’s a strike rate of close to 300. He was the fourth highest run-getter of last year’s CPL T20 which Trinbago won.

Bravo is one of the most elegant and naturally attacking batsmen in the game. For him to resist every temptation and put his team in a winning position in the second Test will remain one of the great batting efforts. And his knock in the CPL T20 show Bravo can be Dr Jekyll, and he can also be Mr Hyde. The rarest of breeds among international batsmen.

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Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne given 'all clear' after blow to neck

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Dimuth Karunaratne after being struck by a delivery from Pat Cummins.

Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne has been discharged from hospital following a blow to the head he received during the second Test in Canberra.

Karunaratne was taken to hospital for checks after being hit on the back of the neck by a bouncer from Australia paceman Pat Cummins during day two of the second Test.

“Dimuth has been discharged from Canberra hospital following assessment and all cleared. A further update will be provided on his playing status tomorrow prior to play,” the Sri Lankan board said in a statement.

Australia made 534-5 declared, Kurtis Patterson having been the third Australian batsman to make a century.

During Sri Lanka’s innings, in the fourth ball of the 31st over, Karunaratne was struck on the back of the helmet near the neck protector by a bouncer from Cummins which angled in from around the wicket.

Karunaratne, who had made 46 with five boundaries, received swift medical attention as he lay at the crease, including from Australia team doctor Richard Saw, before a stretcher was called to take him off the field. The batsman was shown speaking and moving his hands. The 30-year-old, complained of pain in neck and tingling to his hands, was taken to hospital for further assessment.

With inputs from Press Association Sport

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SA v Pakistan ODI: Quinton de Kock's whirlwind fifty seals series win

Waseem Ahmed 30/01/2019
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Quinton de Kock.

South Africa beat Pakistan by seven wickets in the deciding one-day international at Newlands to take the series 3-2.

Batting first, Pakistan looked set for a more competitive total with Fakhar Zaman at the crease but when he departed for 70 the wheels came off.

Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder tore through the middle order with only Imad Wasim, who finished unbeaten on 47, offering any resistance in Pakistan’s total of 240-8.

In response Quinton de Kock smashed 83 off 58 balls while Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen both ended 50 not out as South Africa romped home with 10 overs remaining.

“Quinny made it easy for the rest of the batters,” South African captain Du Plessis was quoted as saying by AFP.

“Our best performance came tonight in a crunch game,” he added. “The bowling was excellent and the fielding was really good. And when Quinny plays like he did tonight he’s extremely difficult to bowl to.”

Pakistan stand-in captain Shoaib Malik said the top order needs to fire in unison to succeed in ODIs.

“Our top three batters got starts and we wanted them to capitalise,” Malik said. “White-ball cricket is all about the first three batters.”

Malik also congratulated opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq, who was named man of the series after scoring 271 runs at an average of 54.20 in five innings. “He is improving day by day,” added Malik.

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