Where’s (Carlos) Brathwaite? The question posed in this space on Saturday morning was answered in the evening. The star of the World T20 final, who burst onto the T20 scene thanks to his fours sixes at the Eden Gardens against England, had nothing to show for in the IPL apart from a solitary six before this game. The Delhi Daredevils had been winning and he wasn’t getting an opportunity.
Close to six-and-half feet, muscular and athletic, with a stride double that of an India cricketer, Brathwaite finally got his turn as the Daredevils top order failed.
The moment middle order batsman Karun Nair, who had resurrected the innings with Sam Billings, walked back after his dismissal, Brathwaite was trotting in.
“Well, I got only one opportunity to bat,” he explained when asked about the lack of runs. “We are going with horses for courses. Today (Imran) Tahir had to miss out.”
The restriction of playing just four overseas players means not everyone gets to play. Brathwaite could feature in just three of the past five games.
If he was brutal in the WT20 final, there was deftness in the first two shots Brathwaite played at the Kotla. A glance down fine leg and reverse scoop towards third man got him two fours off two deliveries as he used Umesh Yadav’s pace. Three sixes in different directions on the leg-side befuddled KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir who misread the pitch.
“The Delhi track is usually slow, so we thought we’d go in with three spinners,” said KKR’s top scorer Robin Uthappa. Neither turn was on offer, nor was there movement. Instead of sending an official to the Kotla on the eve of the match, Gambhir, who normally keeps track during Ranji games, may have done well to pay a visit himself.
It was evident as the skipper, who has been carrying KKR with his bat, was back in the dugout early. A Zaheer Khan delivery deceived him and he was caught at short cover while trying to work it to the leg. Fellow opener Uthappa kept the scoreboard moving with crisp shots but in the face of a 180-plus target, KKR missed a big hitter.
Yusuf Pathan, meant for the task, failed, and only West Indian Andre Russell held out hope as he brought his side within range. Once he was gone for 17 off 12, it was all over.
There was a hint here. India, as was proven during the WT20, don’t have big hitters for T20 cricket. Probably, this is why they rely on turning surfaces. Gambhir may have hoped for that by including three spinners but it was in vain.