Dwayne Bravo lives up to 'champion' status as Maratha Arabians triumph in T10

West Indies allrounder had praise for Chris Lynn after he was named Player of the Tournament

Barny Read in Abu Dhabi
Dwayne Bravo celebrates a wicket  •  BCCI

Dwayne Bravo celebrates a wicket  •  BCCI

When addressing Dwayne Bravo from here on out, you must do so as "Mr. Champion", after the West Indies allrounder led his Maratha Arabians franchise to the Abu Dhabi T10 title on Sunday night. Asked why the Arabians were able to succeed where other franchises fail and back up their early pace setting by sealing victory in the final, Bravo said it was "because most teams don't have the champion".
Bravo, who recently hinted at an international comeback, took Maratha to their first T10 trophy courtesy of a comfortable eight-wicket win over Deccan Gladiators that was just reward for the team that has dominated since losing the opening match of the tournament to reigning champions Northern Warriors 10 days ago.
This was their sixth win from their seven subsequent matches, with the rain the only thing to get the better of them in that time. And in leading the only franchise to survive all three editions of the tournament, Bravo said it was time to put a formal title to his "Champion" moniker.
"Officially my name changed from 'Master Champion' to 'Mr Champion', so now you have to address me as 'Mr Champion', okay?" Bravo said before hailing the experience of his squad for maintaining their form throughout.
"When all of us put our thinking caps on and we come together to come up with a game plan, we stick with it. I'm the captain, yes, but it's not all my way, all my decisions. I have experienced guys who have a lot of knowledge and I lean on these guys for information and advice.
"I think that's the main reason we were so successful throughout this tournament. We lose the first game but it was a way of us learning how to play this game. It's a pattern and I think we are the only team in the tournament to play with that pattern."
One of those players Bravo has been able to rely on has been Chris Lynn and "Lynnsanity" has firmly taken hold of the Abu Dhabi T10 with the Australian in inspired form en route to taking Player of the Tournament honours. Lynn, who topped the league's run-scoring charts with 371 runs from eight innings and finished with the most runs in a single T10 season, was the driving force behind Maratha's dominance.
His stunning sequence included four knocks over 50, including the two highest scores in the league's history. Both of those - 91 not out against Team Abu Dhabi and 89 versus Delhi Bulls - were greater than Maratha's 88-run target in the final and while Chadwick Walton's superb 51 not out stole the show, Lynn has been the form player this year.
"Most credit I must give to [Lynn] for the way he played and he showed he is still one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world," Bravo said. "The way he dominated single-handedly throughout the tournament, he put a lot of fear in the opposition and he took the leadership role as the senior batsman in our team and he led from the front."
Lynn, who put this form up there with his 2016-17 Big Bash League performances that also secured Player of the Tournament honours, added: "I think the biggest thing for us was our communication. Right from day one [Maratha Arabians coach] Andy Flower and Dwayne set the standard that communication would be key, especially in a tournament that's so short, with players we haven't played with, we gelled really nicely and we executed to a tee out in the middle."
By virtue of topping Group A and Group B respectively, it was the first time Deccan and Maratha had met. Having been put into bat first, Mohammad Shahzad got Deccan immediately up and running with four from Mitchell McCleneghan's first ball - the fourth time Shahzad has hit the opening ball for a boundary in nine innings, a run that includes three sixes - but captain Shane Watson was back in the hutch just four balls later.
It started Deccan's slide to just 87 for 7 from their 10 overs, the third-lowest total and fewest runs of any team batting first this year. It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Watson but his solitary run did take the 38-year-old's tally to 237, a record only bettered by the frankly ridiculous return of countryman Lynn.
While Watson missed out with the bat in the final, he had an otherwise fine tournament, hitting two unbeaten half-centuries and a highest score of 75 not out. It shows he is more than keeping up with cricket's most frantic format and while the fire still burns, Watson the player has no plans to hang up his boots just yet.
"I just absolutely still love playing," Watson told ESPNcricinfo on the eve of the final. "I love playing [T10] because it's a great skill-development format for my Twenty20 batting. I love being able to continue to refine what I'm doing technically [and] mentally, with being around these amazing team environments, meeting new people.
"I'm not sure how long I'm going to continue to play for but while I'm still loving it and feel I still can play at my best, I don't know how long it'll last for."