The last time Dwayne Bravo struck a T20 half-century was in September 2016. Since then, up until the 2018 IPL opener, he had batted 33 times for 407 runs, at an average of 17.69, not once reaching 30. He also went several matches without batting. To sum it up, Bravo had hardly been much of a batsman in T20 cricket.
When he walked out to bat on Saturday, he was faced with the task of reviving a Chennai Super Kings side stumbling badly on its return to the league after two years. Bravo had already done his bit with the ball, giving away just 25 runs in four overs, even as Mumbai marched on to 165. That included a three-run 18th over and five-run 20th, even as Mark Wood was taken apart for 19 and 17 at the other end.
Now, Chennai were 75 for 5 in 12 overs, requiring 91 off 48 balls. Off his third delivery, Bravo danced down to the legspinner Mayank Markande and mowed him straight back for six. No sooner had the ball sailed over, Kedar Jadhav began feeling his hamstring. Jadhav had his left thigh strapped by the physiotherapist, but was still unable to continue and walked off. One more batsman down. Bravo's job made harder.
But he was undeterred. Bravo would collect at least a boundary off each of the next three overs, even as Chennai lost two more wickets. And then, with 47 needed off 18 balls, with two wickets remaining, he went berserk. Juicy full offerings from Mitchell McClenaghan were hammered away with a clean, smooth swing of the arms. The strikes forced McClenaghan to drag his length back. But Bravo waited, and stepped out to crunch a pull to the left of deep midwicket. Twenty runs off the 18th over; CSK now needed 27 off 12.
A six over long-off against Jasprit Bumrah off the first ball of the 19th gave Bravo his half-century, off 25 balls. A couple of low full-tosses arrived, and Bravo promptly walloped them over midwicket. By now, Mumbai's shoulders were sagging, and CSK were closing in, with seven required at a run a ball. And then, Bravo gave it away, slicing a short ball to Rohit Sharma at mid-off. But as it turned out, the damage had already been done, and it was a wicket too late for Mumbai.
The wow moment
Bravo's six off McClenaghan off the second ball of the 18th over was a thing of beauty. With 46 required off 17, McClenaghan landed one full on middle stump, nearly in the blockhole. The line meant Bravo had little room for a free swing. But he made up for that with his sublime wrists, flicking them after somehow getting underneath the ball, and sending the ball whistling straight over the bowler's head. Not only did the shot stand out aesthetically, it also signalled Bravo's shift into overdrive.
While Bravo blasted 68 off 30 deliveries, the other batsmen during his stay managed a mere 12 runs off 12 balls.
Bravo's Smart Strike Rate of 343.14 was well over his conventional strike-rate of 226.67, and was comfortably the best of the match. Krunal Pandya was the next best, with a Smart Strike Rate of 264.83.
Likewise, Bravo's smart economy rate of 3.86 was well below his normal economy rate of 6.25. However, Bravo came second-best on this table, behind Deepak Chahar who finished with a Smart Economy Rate of 2.22.
"It was a great victory and we dedicate it to the CSK fans. CSK showed a lot of faith in me. I came in early and I gave myself my best opportunity to bat. It gave me time to get myself set. It is a small outfield, and I backed my skills and I am just happy with my effort tonight." Dwayne Bravo