West Indies may have won a Test against England yesterday — convincing a lot of people that they can perform without their former ODI and Test captain Dwayne Bravo. But let’s not run away from the truth — and no matter whatClive Lloyd says — the Windies will certainly be a stronger unit with a player like him in the squad.
From his centuries on debut in Australia to his performances in the Windies’ World T20 win, Bravo is the allrounder who would walk into any team in the world — certainly into the WI squad, which to be honest, is not brimming with talent.
Against Royal Challengers Bangalore last night — when he picked up the ball in the middle of his bowling action, leaped into the air, collected Virat Kohli’s straight hit with one hand and threw it straight at the stumps even as he landed to run out the Indian star and turn the match on its head — Bravo gave another example of what he brings to the table.
Before the run-out, Kohli was calmly steering his side to a 149-run chase. But the wicket triggered an almighty collapse and CSK won.
This has been the norm for CSK this season. If they score below-par totals, they can rely on their fielding to make the pitch smaller for the opposition — take flying catches — score direct-hits. And in the middle of all this is Bravo — it’s just that he can even bat and bowl. He also retains MS Dhoni’s trust as the go-to man under pressure.
Bravo’s bowling has been superb so far. He is second highest wicket-taker in the Indian Premier League (IPL) so far — taking 16 wickets to table-topper Ashish Nehra’s 17. However, he has bowled seven overs less and has a lower strike rate too (12.3 to Nehra’s 14.1). His slower ones, disguised beautifully, seem to always confound batsmen. In 10 matches, Bravo has cost 30 or more runs only twice.
Against KKR, defending a target worth 135, he bowled a last over which gave CSK a vital 2-run win.
“These situations get the best out of me. I always keep my composure as I like these moments. There are few people in the world who actually cope with pressure,” he said after the match. This is what sets him apart too — the cockiness. Every team needs a confident player who will back himself — and Bravo’s the first person to put himself in the line of fire.
The same match saw him take a spectacular catch to dismiss Suryakumar Yadav. Against RCB in the reverse fixture, Bravo dismissed Dinesh Karthik with a fantastic diving forward catch — again, CSK won that match. He has taken nine catches so far in the tournament — that’s almost a catch a match. It’s become a common sight now — Bravo pouches a catch, and the customary jig follows. He loves it. And he doesn’t miss.
Even with the bat, and for someone who comes in at No 6 or 7, a return of 143 runs from 106 balls (11.77 balls/match) at a strike rate of 130 is not bad at all. This includes a match-making knock worth 62 runs against Rajasthan Royals on 19 April. Bravo came when CSK were 65-4 in the 10th over and smashed RR’s bowlers all over the park so that CSK posted 156 in 20 overs. He also made a healthy 30 against KKR on 30 April in a match which the Knight Riders won with just a ball remaining. This time he had come in the 6th over, with CSK 69-4.
To be fair, most of the times Bravo is not even needed when it comes to batting. But the fact that CSK can rely on him to do the job is enough to convince of his ability.
Some sportsmen just seem to be everywhere during a match — a sort of omnipresence. If you’ve been watching the Premier League, Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic is one such — making vital interceptions and clearances, laying on crosses and getting at the end of them. Bravo is having one such season — taking wickets, stopping runs with livewire fielding and handy with the bat.
He is, this IPL season, unmatched when you combine all three aspects of cricket. West Indies, you watching?
cerdit : firstpost