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Chennai Super Kings are the most consistent team of the Indian Premier League. They’ve won the title twice and have always made it to the top four. However, MS Dhoni’s team plead guilty of being slow starters. They begin on the wrong foot before suddenly overtaking other teams to make the business end of the tournament.
The custom continued in Pepsi IPL 2013 when CSK conceded a home game to the Mumbai Indians by nine runs. After the match iplt20.com caught up with one of CSK’s star all-rounders, Dwayne Bravo, who said it is a good thing for the team to peak at the right time.
Before the interview, the flamboyant West Indian asked, “Why did you choose me for the interview?” Given his contribution in the match was 4-0-44-2 with the ball, 10 runs off 17 balls and a catch! But we are sure that after reading about him talk of his on-field banter with T&T team-mate and ‘best friend’, Kieron Pollard and his innovative dance moves on the field, you’ll know exactly why.
Not a good way to get the ball rolling, is it?
It’s the first game and not a good way to start the tournament. But in a long tournament like this it’s not right to press the panic button yet. History shows that we normally start off slow and then gain momentum. It’s nice to get into the tournament. We have a few new comers in the team who’re playing for the first time. There were a few guys (Ben Laughlin, Dirk Nannes and Ankit Rajpoot) made their debuts for CSK today. It’s good that they got over with their first game and we’re looking forward to the coming games. We have a few things to work on and as a team we know what to do. We have a good balanced team and I’m not worried. CSK seemed to have formed this custom of bouncing back after a rocky start?
It’s a good thing in a way and that’s why the other teams are vary of us. Whenever they come to play against us they bring their A game because they know that when it really matters we really turn it on. We’re able to get over the line from any situation and it’s a proven fact. We’d want to win every game that we play but in a long tournament like this it’s impossible to do that. Since two of your successful overseas players, Albie Morkel and Faf du Plessis, are missing for a while, has the responsibility on you increased on the batting front?
Yes, definitely. They’re two top players and it’s difficult to fill their shoes. Albie is one of the cleanest hitters of the ball and Faf had a fantastic season with us last year. Yes, we’re going to miss them both and this is an opportunity for me to stand up and play an even bigger role. I know I have a big part to play for CSK and I’ll try to make the most of the big opportunity.
Coming to today’s match, do you think Pollard’s catch of Dhoni changed the game against CSK?
Yes. With Mahi there, we had all chances of winning and he was just two hits away from winning the game for us. Unfortunately he hit the ball to the best fielder in the MI team (Kieron Pollard). If it was anyone else, the ball would’ve probably gone for a six. But you have to give due credit to Mahi. He came at a situation where we were really out of the game and singlehandedly brought us back into the game.
Talking of Pollard, we noticed that you love to have those mini battles against him on the field, don’t you?
We’re best friends and whenever we play against each other that extra competition is always there. We always try to get the better of each other. If you remember, the last seasonI dismissed him and sent him off and he had that at the back of his mind today. I knew that his innings would make a big difference in the game. In this format he’s one of the best players in the world. He won it for them today. But we will have a match in Mumbai and I look forward to settling the account there.
Do you plan to unleash a new dance move in every match this IPL season?
Everybody at CSK looks forward to me doing some kind of a jig. It’s something that I started to keep the fans happy. It’s also a part of my style; I enjoy playing the game and being part of this team. I love playing cricket here in Chennai. They’re good people and I like it that I can do things to make them happy and keep them entertained.
Every time Mumbai Indians fail to post a winning total or falter in a chase, voices from various corners demand the batting order promotion of Kieron Pollard higher than the No.6. They find it difficult to fathom how and why the most marauding hitter of the cricket ball in the team is often left with very little time to make an impact.
In MI’s second game of Pepsi IPL 2013, against hosts Chennai Super Kings, the Caribbean T20 specialist showed everyone what he could do if given the opportunity to plan and pace his innings. With MI having lost their top four batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, Pollard was at the crease as early as in the ninth over.
He took that rare opportunity to prove his worth as a match-winner with the bat and smacked an unbeaten 57 off 38 balls. However, the strapping Trinidadian refuted all claims of making a statement.
“I have a role in the team to play and it’s the management’s role to decide that. I am happy doing whatever I am asked to do,” he said after helping MI to a nine-run win. “It was just the matter of playing for my team and myself, trying to get a score against my name and getting into the groove of the tournament.”
Besides Pollard’s big hits, one of the most entertaining part of his knock was his ‘exchange of words’ with fellow Trinidadian and West Indian, Dwayne Bravo. The banter started by the Super Kings all-rounder culminated in Pollard hitting Bravo for a last ball six.
“He started by it trying to throw the ball back at me,” pollard said in jest when asked how the battle ensued. “It’s always been a fun rivalry between both of us. We’re fellow countrymen and very good friends off the field. In fact, we’re as close as brothers. On the field it’s a job and entertainment and we have to do our part. He’s trying to win and so am I,” Pollard said.
Another interesting incident involving Pollard that he likes to call “sportsmanship”, happened during the 18th over of the second innings when he was bowling to MS Dhoni. The CSK captain had already scored 10 runs off the first two balls. Pollard ran in for the third and pulled out. “I was trying to slow it down a bit because he was going berserk,” he admitted in a chat with iplt20.com after the match.
When he did prepare to release the ball in the second attempt, Dhoni backed off from his crease to “give it back” to the bowler. Dhoni took it one step further when he removed his pads and sat down to tie his shoe laces.” Then I had to come up with something but the captain was telling us to hurry up, so I just had to rush through the over,” and that’s when the mind games between the bowler and the batsman ended.
However, Pollard had the last laugh in the ultimate contest when he converted what looked like a six, into a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss the rampaging Dhoni. The CSK skipper was dismissed for a 26-ball 51 and it proved to be the final nail in CSK’s coffin. With CSK needing 12 runs from six balls at that time, the catch proved to be the turning point of the match. Pollard, however, chose to play it down.
“You can look at it as one of the important moments in the match but having said that, we played well as a team. Mitch (Mitchell Johnson) bowled well the over before and so the pressure was on Dhoni. He went for the big shot and the ball came to me,” he said.
We ended the chat by asking him who was the biggest hitter of the cricket ball. Pat cam the answer, “Chris Gayle”.