In Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) six-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Friday had two heroes — both in bowling. If Dwayne Bravo put up a fantastic bowling performance, it was Shardul Thakur, who kept things tidy scalping two wickets to dampen RCB’s batting after a fine start. CSK coach Eric Simmons said it was the self-belief that helped Thakur fight back after going for 18 runs in the first two overs.
“You can sum up Shardul Thakur in terms of self-belief. You can give him the ball in any circumstances, and he would deliver. He has incredible self-belief and I think that’s one of the things that makes him such a special cricketer,” Eris Simmons said at the post-match press conference on Friday.
It was in the next two overs where Shardul Thakur used the momentum after both Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal had returned to the pavilion to bring CSK back in the game. In the 15th over, Shardul Thakur conceded just four runs and returned for his final over in the 17th over with AB de Villiers still on crease. He was hammered for a six but Thakur came back and sent him back in the same over. Then came the prized wicket of Devdutt Padikkal, who was set and man in form with 70 runs. His slower short ball was badly executed by Padikkal and he got his second wicket with RCB struggling.
“As a team, you know we very strongly look at the execution of our tactic rather than the outcome. Sometimes you see the bowler bowls a perfect ball and het gets hit for a six. Today particularly we didn’t get it quite right in the first half. And in the second half, in many ways with momentum, he bowled and at the right areas. He was clever about the way he went about his bowling. Something we speak about smart body attack and he epitomised that today by being very smart in the way that he uses these tactics and his ability to meet the wicket and the batsman in the situation,” Eric Simmons said.
As for the other hero, he was man of the match with a special bowling display that took RCB apart. In four overs, Dwayne Bravo returned with 3/24 including the crucial wickets of Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell.
At 37, he has struggled with his fitness and has kept his bowling arm away but in the IPL 2021, he has been special. In five innings, the West Indian icon has bagged nine wickets with an economy of 7.05, his best since making debut back in 2008. After skipper MS Dhoni heaped praise on Bravo, Eri Simmons said Friday’s performance against RCB was the best he had ever seen.
“He has, particularly in the last few matches that he’s playing. He has bowled in CPL and everywhere he has played. Just seem to find another gear and that’s, I think what makes him such a special cricket up, but the executions tonight was some of the best I have ever seen and the pressure to bring it to you back the way that it did. So, I would say certainly we are extremely happy and I’m sure he’s in terms of his performance,” Eric Simmons said.