Just a week after his four consecutive sixes in the World T20 final made him the toast of the cricketing world, Carlos Brathwaite will be back at the Eden Gardens when the Delhi Daredvils take on the Kolkata Knight Riders in their IPL opener in Kolkata on Sunday.
It was last Sunday, on April 3, that Brathwaite achieved overnight stardom hitting Ben Stokes for those sixes off the first four balls of the last over to win the second World T20 title for the West Indies.
It’s fresh in everyone’s memory and no wonder Brathwaite’s inclusion will lift the spirits of Daredevils, who have been perennial under-achievers in the cash-rich league. It’s also a psychological advantage to play against Gautam Gambhir-led KKR, who have kept a good record on home turf.
Getting into the winning mode will be key as Daredevils look to get their combination right, while KKR with their nucleus intact will be keen to build momentum in their bid for a record third IPL trophy in five years.
For a team that has always boasted of a talent-filled roster only to make a mess of things in the end, Daredevils look like a transformed unit this time, at least on paper, having spent judiciously on young talents.
They did cop some flak having bought Brathwaite at Rs 4.2 crore at the IPL auction when he was a relative non-entity but the team management is now being hailed for their foresight after his World T20 exploits.
The new-look Daredevils look like a mini Rajasthan Royals -- one of the two suspended franchises along with Chennai Super Kings -- with the inspiring backroom presence of Rahul Dravid as mentor and Paddy Upton as coach among others.
Zaheer Khan may not be what he used to be in his prime but at 37, as the captain of a young side, his inputs could prove to be invaluable in the long run.
Having played an instrumental role in turning Rajashan Royals into a formidable unit, the duo’s first priority will be to bring out a winning combination and stability in their big 24-member squad, originally 25 before uncapped Joel Paris’ injury.
Dravid will have three of his former U-19 wards, Rishabh Pant, Mahipal Lomror and Khaleel Ahmed, with whom he took India to the U-19 World Cup final in Bangladesh earlier this year. Of the three, only Pant has a realistic chance of figuring in the playing XI.