New Delhi: Till the Chennai innings reached its 18th over, everybody present at the Wankhede stadium and even out of it must have had this notion that the home side will break the record of not losing the first match of every IPL. But MS Dhoni, the Chennai skipper showed no signs of worry as he stood calmly in the dressing room. Could he foresee that Dwayne Bravo was to suddenly spark in the dying phase of the game and it will be him who will infuse life back into the Chennai side?
Dhoni certainly could foresee it and for that matter, even Bravo didn't disappoint him. The wiry Caribbean not only bowled well at the end restricting Mumbai to 165 but snatched the win out their jaws with a blitzkrieg that begun in the 18th over the chase. During a night that truly belonged to him, Bravo's all-round show including 68 off 30 balls and 4-0-25-0 helped Chennai mow down Mumbai 165 with one ball to spare.
With eight wickets down, Chennai needed 47 runs off the last 18 balls. Bravo had been hitting well and had found a few hits sail out of the park already. But the loss of wickets from the other end was a deterrent. At that juncture, Bravo decided to try out and boy he tried really well. Against Mitchell McClenaghan, he lofted a fuller delivery over his head for a six. Next up, as McClenaghan veered towards leg, Bravo dispatched it over mid-wicket. One could really understand his mindset. He was waiting for McClenaghan to drop it anywhere within his range and he was ready to throw his bat at every delivery. It was not at all blind hitting but application mixed with anticipation. Bravo was aware McClenaghan will not bowl any fuller as he had been hit already. So he jumped out on the fifth ball and expectedly the pacer dropped in short. Bravo completed the pull for a boundary. Chennai get 20 in the over to come close.
Next up it was Jasprit Bumrah. One bowler, who you don't expect to falter as he did on Saturday night. He was hit for 20 in his over after he erred with his length. Trying a yorker on the first delivery of the nineteenth over, he bowled it fuller and in the range. Bravo cleared his front leg and helped the ball on its way over mid-off for a six. The following ball, Bumrah couldn't land the slower ball on target and offered a juicy low full toss, to which Bravo showed absolutely no pity and pummelled it over midwicket for a second six. He ran hard for a couple the next ball before walloping the fifth, a low full toss over midwicket again for a six. Chennai had collected 20 again and needed just 7 in the last over. But when it seemed that Bravo will take Chennai home, he was sent back in a soft dismissal.
Was there another twist in the tale? Chennai were nine down and it was left to Imran Tahir and an injured Kedar Jadhav. Thankfully, it was Jadhav on strike against Mustafizur Rehman. He was barely able to move but stepped in just for the team's sake. The first three ball were dabbed, guided and drove for no run. It was clear that he too was waiting for Mustafizur to pitch it where he would like so that he could take a swing. With fine-leg inside the circle, Jadhav moved across since he knew he would bowl a cutter and not too full. Jadhav moved deep and across to shovel it over fine-leg for a six. The Chennai fans went in a state of delirium. The next ball was a juicy half volley which Jadhav creamed through cover to help Chennai announce their arrival as well as revival.
Until then, it was all rosy for the Mumbai. Their debutant young legspinner from Punjab -- Mayank Markande -- had picked three important wickets to bring Mumbai back into the game. With a below par score of 165, Markande and Hardik Pandya had shared six wickets between them to set the stage for Mumbai's opening win. Markande impressed with his googlies while Pandya struck with knuckle balls. Chennai too couldn't maintain the tempo and kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. At the start, Rayudu displayed class but got out on 22 against Markande. Only Jadhav and Bravo combined to resurrect the slide and later it was the Caribbean who made the difference.
Mumbai also suffered a top order collapse. Chennai did bowl better at the start but Mumbai couple of fruitful stands to reach 165. Firstly, it was a 78-run stand between Ishan Kishan (34 off 23) and Suryakumar Yadav (43 off 29) that set the platform and later, the Pandya brothers stitched 52 together to ensure Mumbai reached a competitive total. Krunal Pandya was prolific of the two and scored an unbeaten 41in just 22 balls.
But the Saturday night truly was Bravo's and in the B-town, the Caribbean made a heroic entry at the very climax.