<
>

Bravo unleashes stunning assault to bring CSK screaming back

play
Coach's Diary: CSK need explosive openers (1:44)

ESPNcricinfo's new segment looks at the events of the IPL opener and figures out what the teams might want to concentrate on moving forward into the season (1:44)

Chennai Super Kings 169 for 9 (Bravo 68, Jadhav 24*, Markande 3-23, Hardik 3-24) beat Mumbai Indians 165 for 4 (Suryakumar 43, Krunal 41*, Watson 2-29) by one wicket

Mumbai Indians didn't account for the possibility that Chennai Super Kings, who were coming back from a two-year ban, could also come back from the dead.

After managing to overcome a poor start with the bat, putting up an above-par score, throwing their superstar at Super Kings' top order and unleashing a starlet to dismantle the middle order, Mumbai should have won this. Having then had Super Kings needing 48 off 21 balls with one wicket remaining, they should have won big. With Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan and Mustafizur Rahman all available to bowl during that period, they'd have had to try hard not to.

But they didn't account for the might of Dwayne Bravo who, after conceding only 11 off his last three overs, returned to blitz seven sixes in a 30-ball 68 that put Super Kings within seven runs of a victory that Kedar Jadhav sealed on one leg.

The punt that set it up

Every captain who won the toss in a night match at the Wankhede had elected to bowl last year, and MS Dhoni said he didn't see a reason why Super Kings shouldn't do the same on a grassy pitch. Only two of those captains had ended up on the winning side in six games.

Mumbai chose to open with Evin Lewis and Rohit Sharma, a move that would have either brought them big runs up front or exposed an untested middle order to the new ball. As it turned out, the new-ball duo of Deepak Chahar and Shane Watson brought about the latter.

Keeping the target down

Two half-century stands lifted Mumbai to 165 after a poor start, but they could have had a lot more.

The Pandya brothers, led by Krunal, managed to extract 45 runs from Mark Wood's last three overs. The fast bowler who had gone for three off his first over had a sour ending to his IPL debut. But Super Kings found padding at the other end through Bravo, who laid the work for a big chase much before he knew it.

While Wood had trouble switching abruptly from a predominantly short length to a yorker length - bowling either too short or too full in his endeavour - Bravo executed his yorkers expertly, while sneaking in the occasional dipper. He bowled the 16th, 18th and 20th overs that were worth 11 runs in total even as a combined 36 came off the 17th and 19th overs; a particularly good return against Hardik and Krunal, who boast Smart Strike Rates of 155.63 and 204.78 respectively since IPL 2015.

The fears and the turnaround

Super Kings had left out their specialist openers M Vijay and Sam Billings, who were expected to fortify a batting line-up that was considered a glaring weakness following the auction in January.

Those fears were first put under examination by Hardik, who got Watson to flick a knuckle ball to deep square leg before cramping Suresh Raina on the pull in his next over. What seemed like a decent start - seven runs per over with the loss of one wicket in 5.5 overs - quickly became a slippery slope. Extracting every bit of that reality was debutant legspinner Mayank Markande, who slipped a googly through Ambati Rayudu to trap him in front next over. He could have had Jadhav two balls later, but could convince neither umpire Chris Gaffaney nor his captain that this ball - also a googly - was hitting leg stump. A significant moment in hindsight.

Mumbai did, however, take the review when Dhoni was trapped on the back foot and had the not-out decision overturned to leave Super Kings tottering at 51 for 4. When Jadhav retired hurt with a strained hamstring, a swift end was in sight.

But once again, Bravo took charge of the final phase of the innings to lift Super Kings. Between the start of the 18th over - with Imran Tahir for company - and the end of the 19th, Bravo anticipated the blockhole lengths McClenaghan and Bumrah were looking for and got deep in his crease to pick up five sixes - three over midwicket and two over long-off.

He seemed to have thrown it away, when he sliced Bumrah's last ball to extra cover. What he did manage, however, was to cross over to the other end. This meant that Jadhav, returning to the crease, had the strike in the last over.

Jadhav's mobility seemed severely impeded as he tried initially to dab Mustafizur's offcutters fine on either side of the wicket; but a surge of adrenaline made up for his injured hamstring, allowing him to get down one knee and ramp one over fine leg to bring the equation down to one off three balls. All the fielders moved into single-saving positions, but that couldn't prevent Jadhav from sealing this astonishing comeback, with a ball to spare, with an insouciant drive to the cover boundary.