Chennai Super Kings' Dwayne Bravo
Chennai Super Kings’ Dwayne Bravo celebrates a dismissal. Image Credit: AP

Five hundred T20 wickets for Dwayne Bravo! Would you believe that? Yes, it’s true. The West Indian in Chennai Super Kings’ colours is the leading wicket-taker in the shortest form of cricket. The next best is Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, with 390 wickets.

But Bravo isn’t a leading bowler, a spearhead like Malinga, Bumrah, or Michell Starc. This is T20. You don’t need to have a fiery pace to get wickets. This is a high-pressure game. You prise out wickets by turning the screws. Choke the runs, and the batsman will do something stupid, and you get his wicket. It’s that simple.

Bravo is a master at this. He’s got 501 wickets to prove that. He’s a phenomenon. A slower-ball phenomenon. No, Bravo doesn’t serve up dibbly-dobs like a Jeremy Coney and a Chris Harris. He’s a very good seam bowler with plenty of variations. His slower ball is the killer, the one that dips. The slow off-cutter and the slow bouncer are equally deadly. 

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Unlike most West Indian bowlers, Bravo doesn’t rely on pace. He thrives in taking pace off the ball. And he’s got a bagful of tricks. What marks Bravo out is how he uses the arsenal at his disposal.

Come to think of it, a lot of thought goes into each of Bravo’s wickets. He varies the line, length and pace of the ball to keep the batsmen guessing. So it’s not easy to cart him, as many batsmen would testify.

Bravo’s the go-to bowler for his captains. CSK skipper Mahendra would vouch for him. When the frontline bowlers go for runs, Dhoni turns to the West Indian. In the slog overs, there no bowler is as miserly as Bravo. He’s proved that time and time again at the death. Most big guns in T20, including Yuvaraj Singh, AB de Villiers and Dhoni, have been silenced by Bravo’s blend of off-cutters and slower ones.

A favourite of T20 leagues

Born in Santa Cruz, Trinidad, in 1983, Bravo started as a batsman who could bowl fast-medium. As a 21-year old, he burnished his all-round credentials on his Test debut against England at Lord’s in 2004. After a rollercoaster of a Test career and several acrimonies with the West Indies cricket board, Bravo began to focus on T20 cricket in 2010.

His expertise in the short game brought him plenty of contracts. Bravo has played in most T20 leagues in the world. When the Indian Premier League was launched in 2008, Bravo signed up for the Mumbai Indians for the first three seasons before the Chennai Super Kings bought him in 2011; he played for Gujarat Lions too, in 2016. He turned out for Chittagong Kings and Dhaka Dynamites in Bangladesh, Quetta Gladiators and Lahore Qalandars in Pakistan, the Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers in Australia, Dolphins in South Africa and the Trinbago Knight Riders in the West Indies. He was the overseas player for Essex, Kent and Middlesex.

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When you have turned up for so many teams in so many leagues, you play at a lot of games. Bravo has done just that. In 14 years since his T20 debut, he’s played over 450 matches. Wicket number 500 came in his 459th match. He was also the first to reach 300 and 400 wicket milestones. That underscores his continued effectiveness.

Bravo, who will turn 37 in October, has not lost his zest for life and cricket. COVID-19 and the bio-bubble won’t rein in his singing and grooving; you can’t stop him on a cricket field too. His rapid knocks, electric fielding and parsimonious spells at the death will rock this IPL too. Chennai and Dhoni are counting on him.

Bravo’s simply unstoppable. Blow a whistle (whistle podu) for this Super King.