Match 47 of IPL 2021, RR vs CSK, will see both teams with different objectives on the ground. CSK, having already made it to the play-offs, will look to consolidate a position for the qualifier 1 while Rajasthan are still in contention for a late berth in the top four.
Evolution in sport has been inevitable. With the competitive nature of the sport increasing and with a lot of talented players coming to the scene, it becomes challenging to stay relevant in the game and sustain for a long period of time. T20 cricket has evolved in such a way that even the spinners have been pushed to a point where they have to bowl fast in order to be effective. However, anomalies aren’t new in sports and one such anomaly is Dwayne Bravo. 37 years old, fit and running, the champion bowler has mastered the subtle art of bowling slow and being effective at the same time in one of the high-pressure T20 leagues in the world.
Dwayne Bravo – The subtle art of varying speeds
As a casual watcher, the common observation would be that Bravo consistently bowls slow. A 100kph is a common sight when Bravo picks the ball. In an era where a bowler gets carted for trying a slower one as a variation, Dwayne Bravo has not only sustained but has also had magnificent returns by bowling slow on a consistent basis. But does he always bowl slow? Or does he keep varying his speed? If he keeps varying his speed, does he spray it with inconsistency or is it methodical?
Analyzing the different speeds with which Bravo has bowled so far in this season, it is quite evident that there is some thinking that goes behind. Bravo has two peaks when it comes to the speeds that he bowls with. His faster peak is around the 130kph mark while his slower peak is around the 100kph mark. What are his returns? His slow ball range has been 99-104kph in which he has picked up one wicket bowling 21 balls at an economy of 7.42. His regular bowling speed has been in the range 126-132kph, where he has bowled 64 balls picking up eight wickets at an economy of 5.9.
How does his numbers compare to the previous season? Looking at the distribution of Bravo’s speed in IPL 2020, his regular bowling speed has been in the range of 126-135kph which is almost similar to what he has bowled in IPL 2021. Has he had the same returns? No! He has bowled 98 balls in this range picking up just five wickets at an economy of 8.2 runs per over. What has been the difference? In 2020 there isn’t a slow ball peak or a range as observed in the ongoing edition. In the previous edition, Bravo has consistently hit his regular speed failing to mix it up with the slower ones making him a lot predictable. While this time, as seen from the graph, Bravo has been consistently bowling the slower ones which have kept the batters guessing making it a possible reason why Bravo has enjoyed some success this season. The faster balls have started to come as a surprise!
RR vs CSK: Countering Dwayne Bravo
Bravo’s economy of 6.56 in this season even after bowling a lot at the death is a testament to the kind of rhythm Bravo has been in so far in the tournament. But in sport, you can’t be flawless! There is always that one stat that is going to get you. A matchup that would favor your opposition. One such match-up that might get Dwayne Bravo in the upcoming game against Rajasthan Royals is his record against left-handed batters so far in this tournament.
While Bravo has been very effective against the right-handed batters averaging 10 with the ball at an economy of 5.87 picking up 9 wickets, he hasn’t seen half the success against left-handers. He has conceded at an economy of 8 runs per over against left-handers after bowling 45 balls in this tournament picking up just 2 wickets. Rajasthan should look to use this matchup in their favor and with the likes of Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mahipal Lomror, and Rahul Tewatia in the side, Rajasthan have got it covered.
Apart from the left-hander matchup, there are a few other aspects of Bravo’s bowling that come as unexploited which the Rajasthan batters ought to be utilizing in order to maximize the returns. On observing the lines that Bravo has bowled, it comes as a surprise that batters have failed to punish the balls that have been bowled outside the leg stump. Bravo has bowled 15 balls outside the leg stump from which the batters have only scored 11 runs making it his best economy for a particular line that he has bowled. It is important to punish such loose balls as not often has Bravo bowled such lines this season. Bravo has consistently hit the right lines where he has bowled 70% of his deliveries outside the off-stump conceding at just 6.43 runs per over.
With Bravo finding the right line and mixing up his speed well while hitting the good length 29% of the time and nailing the yorker 20% of the time, it is important that batters be spot on with their shot selection and the area that they target. Upon analyzing the shots batters have played against Bravo, the pull, loft on the onside, and the slog sweep seem to be the most effective ones. Bravo’s economy reads 15.43, 20, and 9 when batsmen attempt these shots respectively.
Although Bravo has kept his line tight, batters who take the risk of hitting across the line have tasted success. Mid Wicket and the Long On have been the hotspots when Bravo has bowled. 40 runs have been scored off 18 balls in the mid-wicket region while 25 runs have been scored off 18 balls in the long-on region. Batters need to target the right zones in order to have any purchase against CSK’s premier death bowler Dwayne Bravo.
While it is an undeniable fact that Bravo has hit his late peak and is in a phase where a lot of teams have not found a way to get going against him, Rajasthan with their resources seem to stand a chance. With a few solid left-handers equipped to take down pace, RR only need to target the right areas in the field to keep their scoreboard moving against Dwayne Bravo. It is imperative that RR don’t let the tempo slip against Bravo trying to take a safe route against him, a common mistake that other teams did. With 2 crucial points at stake going into the game, Rajasthan should make sure that they maximize their returns against who has been the best bowler for CSK in this tournament so far.