When Dwayne Bravo arrived in the middle on a buzzing Wandkhede evening on April 8, Chennai Super Kings were well on their way out of the contest. You almost felt a ferry had arrived for them at the Gateway of India and they would be off in a jiffy. The scorecard, in pursuit of 166- not an impossible task on any given day in an IPL- read 5 down for 75. The odds were clear and staring coldly for the Trinidadian.
Bravo runs down Mumbai
Another 91 were needed. Just 48 balls were remaining.
By the time Bravo departed- in a manner that was in complete polarization to how he had batted all evening- a mishit to short cover- the scorecard read 9 down for 159. Only 7 were needed from final 6 balls.
For a brief moment, maybe a second or two, had you happened to switch over from the channel and return, it could’ve tricked you into disbelief.
It’s what Bravo did from over number 12 to 19 that changed the eventual outcome of the game. The runs that had dried up returned like an early monsoon shower. In fact, in layman language- it was raining runs. Sixes surrounding like the Wankhede like the characteristic downpour of rains- cataclysmic in outcome.
Swatting sixes at free will
It were Mumbai now that were ducking under cover- Bravo hot in pursuit, holding a club in hand, as if to physically maul them into oblivion. Thankfully, that pain engulfed only the scoreboard.
The last time that one of West Indies’ most unforgettable talents struck 7 sixes in an inning, it might have been on a good outing on the Playstation. Not in Rohit Sharma-land, in front of hundreds and hundreds of people. Not in a grand IPL opener.
But cricket, particularly in the shortest format has a habit of identifying dark knights when all’s going down. Bravo was the savior in Mumbai. But it has to be said, essaying both emotions- triumph for Chennai Super Kings and a face-palm expression for Mumbai fans, he presided over as much ecstasy as gloom.
What Bravo’s immensely valuable hand- a 68 off just 30- at a strike rate of 226 does is that it lights up a tournament for Chennai Super Kings in a special way. It is a tournament that has only just begun, one where they now seem to be amid some great momentum. While it highlights the quintessential power that Chennai have amidst them, it also sets their batting core- Raina, Jadeja, Faf, Watson and Dhoni himself- relatively free from the pressure of scoring.
Bravo’s ingenious all-round talent
Having someone like an experienced Dwayne Bravo in the side cushions CSK with a vital all round buffer. In Bravo, CSK have a kind of talent who can chip in with wickets and also keep the pressure of high scoring chances in death overs under check. Interestingly, something he so handily did when Mumbai were collecting useful runs during the closing stages.
Quite staggering to note a batsman not only outran his opposition single-handedly having conceded runs only 6 an over. Had Bravo not had fired up his brilliantly deceptive slower ones in the closing stages- between 14-20- Mumbai may just have clobbered in excess of 180.
Could there be anything else that Chennai would’ve wanted from their Calypso strongman?
Bravo also brings this characteristic Caribbean flavor to the IPL- spicing the format with the muscular hits and coily wrists, a site on candid display that underpowered someone like a Bumrah, who conceded 3 of Bravo’s 7 sixes during the closing stages.
Chennai’s next games are against KKR, RR and, RCB. Two of these 3 sides bat well into the deep with powerful line-ups. It will, once again, be an opportunity to contribute with his twin-talents. The focus, uncharacteristically rests with a Windies power in a line-up sizzled with familiar Indian names. He should make it count.