- CARLOS BRATHWAITE (WEST INDIES)
6th February, 2016- Delhi Daredevils’ Rs. 4.2 crore bid for Carlos Brathwaite at the IPL auctioninvited wild scowls from the seven other bidders who were present in ITC Gardenia’s conference hall on that particular day. Cynics termed it as a ‘joke’ while some others called it a ‘hoax’.
3rd April, 2016- 19 runs. West Indies were 19 runs away from their second World T20 title but all those runs had to be scored in one solitary over. Who was the striker? It must have been either Dwyane Bravo or Andre Russell. By the time Ben Stokes started his run up to bowl the final over, Bravo and Russell had been sent back to the hut, leaving the experienced Marlon Samuels and a relatively unknown Carlos Brathwaite(who had played just 7 T20Is prior to that game)at the creaseto face the final over. The odds were hitherto stacked in England’s favour but four lusty blows from Brathwaite’s willow over deep mid-wicket, mid-off, long-on and mid-wicket respectively ensured a miraculous 6-wicket victory for the West Indies and their second World T20 triumph in 4 years. Breath-taking Brathwaite was certainly the man of the moment (scored 34* off 10 deliveries) in the final at a jam-packed Eden Gardens and his celebrations knew no bounds after he piloted the West Indies not only to their second piece of silverware in World T20s but in the process he also helpedCaribbean cricketelopefrom the acrimonyof WICB’s lackadaisical attitude.
Dropped out of the picture in 2011 following an underwhelming display against Bangladesh in his debut series, the 27 year old Bajan made a strong retaliation in late 2015 when he was drafted into the West Indies squad after a gap of four years for an away series against Australia. Emotion and excitement mingled in equal proportions for him at that stageand he credited his mother with having helped him overcomea string of adverse situations who had been undergoing chemotherapy owing to cancer. Since then there has been no looking back for the 6 feet’ 10 inch tall all-rounder from Barbados.Brathwaite has played only 2 Tests to date, scored 130 runs at an average of 43.33 and taken just a lone wicket. His 7 ODI appearances have yielded 71 runs and 3 wickets so far while in T20Is, he has scored 59 runs in 8 games with the unbeaten 39 coming in the final of the 2016 World T20 being his highest besides scalping 5 wickets. Astonishingly, out of those 59 runs, 46 runs have come in boundaries (7 sixes and a boundary).
Emulating the role which has been played by Kieron Pollard over the years, Brathwaite scored 57 runs (at an average of 19.66) and grabbed 4 wickets in 6 games in the World T20 at a bowling average of 36.25 and an economy rate of 5.20. His subtle changes in variation deceived batsmen from the opposition more often than not which helped him emerge as a potent bowler for Captain Sammy in the death overs.
The baton of keeping the fans engrossed in T20 extravaganza will be now passed on to the IPL. While the month and a half long tournament involving slam bang cricket would serve as an extended honeymoon for some of the aforementioned players, others will head back to their respective domestic circuits in pursuit of sharpening their skills and taking their game to the next level.