Add this to the legend of MS Dhoni. If Dwayne Bravo is to be believed, there are no team meetings at Chennai Super Kings. They don’t plan beforehand; they just rock up and rely on their experience to devise plans on the go.
A good example of it was how Bravo recovered from a poor start with the ball. He was brought on in the 14th over of Delhi Capitals’ innings, which meant the unenviable task of bowling overs 14, 16, 18 and 20. It leaves no room for error, but Bravo made errors in his first over. The first ball was a slower one. Edged for four. Next one a wide down the leg side. Fourth ball was slower, and put away again, followed by a missed yorker that went for another four. Seventeen runs in the over.
Dhoni, though, persisted with Bravo, who ended up with the wickets of Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan and Colin Ingram. A chat between overs helped Bravo. “Seventeen runs in the first over,” Bravo said. “The first one was an edge. The second one was a low full toss. It was just a matter of poor execution on my part. I learnt from my previous over. The conditions were helping me in terms of not to use much variations but try to bowl a lot more seam-up. So, that was the game-plan and MS definitely wanted me to bowl a lot straighter with no slower balls. Just straight, on to the wicket, with good pace – and that’s what I did in the second over.
“If you look at it today, I bowled a lot more effort balls than in other games. Normally I bowl slower balls, a lot of variations, yorkers. But today the wicket wasn’t suitable for those type of deliveries. Again, MS knew exactly what is required, and he also knew he can count on me any time to deliver for him.”
Surely batting with Dhoni, who is unlike other batsmen and takes games deeper than others, requires different planning for batsmen? “We don’t plan,” Bravo said, without any discernible hint of mirth. “We don’t have team meetings. We don’t plan. We just turn up, go with the flow on any given day. So yeah we just watch the situation and adjust and adapt quickly. That’s where the experience comes in.”
That experience wasn’t spoken of kindly last year by many, but now everybody is crediting that experience for their wins. For example, Super Kings just knew they had to cause the damage with the new ball when they were batting because this was a slow pitch. Shane Watson carried out that damage and broke the back of the chase within the Powerplay.
“We proved last season, you know, age is just a number,” Bravo said. “Whenever people talked about the CSK team, they brought in the age factor. We are not 60 years old, yeah. We are 35, 30, 32… We are still young; we look after ourselves, we look after our body, and we have a lot of experience, and don’t matter what, you can’t beat experience in any sport, in any tournament. In anything you just cannot beat experience.
“We know we are not the fastest team on the field. We play within our strengths, we know our weaknesses. We play smart. That is the most important thing. And we are well led by the best captain in the world, and he keeps reminding us that we’re not the fastest team, but we can be the smartest team.” (ESPNCricinfo)