The just-concluded IPL may already be giving besotted fans a whiff of nostalgia; cricket lovers who’re endlessly drawn to the competition, especially for love of the sport’s most exciting format. But back in the Caribbean, the boys who were part of another enthralling league are preparing for forthcoming series and challenges.
It’s a busy season ahead for the men from the Caribbean.
They’ll be preparing in the immediate aftermath of the Lord’s Charity contest on May 31, for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh tours with the sub-continental sides visiting the Caribbean after a long gap.
But before the West Indies stars get busy for their forthcoming challenges, those who made heads turn and those who were a tad bit underwhelming this time around would want to reflect on their efforts.
So let’s analyse how did the IPL 2018 go for an assortment of exciting T20 talents from the West Indies?
Chris Gayle: The Universe Boss
The Universe Boss was a tad bit disconsolate before the start of the IPL. He wasn’t too happy at having not been retained by his Royal Challengers Bangalore with whom he enjoyed many tremendous successes. Moreover, there were concerns whether Gayle would get going in the Ashwin-led side.
However, quick to his run-plundering ways, Gayle reduced everyone’s doubts as he produced a sparkling hundred, that too against the eventual finalists of IPL 2018, Sunrisers Hyderabad.
In producing a gem in his 104 not out, Gayle displayed how to play the most dangerous leg-spinner in the contest- Rashid Khan. Is an attack the best form of defence, Chris? Perhaps yes.
In all fairness to Rashid Khan, against Chris Gayle’s fury, he was being toyed around, he was clueless as the Jamaican was whipping sixes and fours at will.
Although Gayle went on to collect 2 more fifties, his latter half of the tournament was sedate by his standards. Even then, it could be seen that the lanky Jamaican settled well into his new outfit.
Sunil Narine: The new Gayle
The famous mystery spinner was fiery with the bat and a bit perplexing for opponents with the ball. He attained his true moment of reckoning when upon the conclusion of the league, he was named the most valuable player.
You scratched your head a bit as all Narine had done was to have taken 17 wickets while the likes of Andrew Tye and Siddharth Kaul were in the upper echelons of 20 wickets.
But when it was revealed that Narine delivered 137 dot balls from 16 games for the KKR, you understood the essence of the math. Isn’t that somewhere 23 overs; and thus literally meaning that the Trinidadian bowled a dot ball for an entire IPL inning?
Narine’s heroics for this cracker of a season didn’t end there. Along with prodding bowlers of some class including Rashid Khan’s SRH, Bumrah’s MI, Trent Boult’s DD, on his way to conjure 357 runs, the gutsy cricketer went on to fire a 17-ball-fifty against Kohli’s RCB. He danced down the wicket to pacers and lifted Chahal out of the park consecutively.
We are in amazing times indeed when Narine nearly matches Chris Gayle for his T20 exploits where batting savagery is concerned.
Kieron Pollard: Not as threatening anymore
One of the icon players of Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai Indians may honestly be the only Caribbean talent that endured a rather sedate season.
Apart from that confident, gusty, very ‘Pollard-like’ against King’s XI Punjab, a knock that spurred the West Indian after bench-warming for a few games, there was nothing that the Trinidadian could really muster from this tournament.
He scored 133 from 7 games and with the possible exception of that quick-fire fifty where Pollard flicked a few muscular blows into the stands against Punjab, your eyes were set on another West Indian, in fact, from Pollard’s camp, a compatriot who debuted in this IPL- Evin Lewis.
Evin Lewis: A promising start
It was quite an emphatic tournament for IPL debutant Evin Lewis, a batsman who, for his flair and power-hitting earned the praise of Rohit and the warmth of a devoted MI fan army.
From 13 games, Lewis struck 382 runs, the most by a West Indian all series. Truth be told, given Lewis is among the only two batsmen in T20s to have struck 2 centuries, the other being KL Rahul, and coming into the IPL at the back of some illustrious hitting against associate nations (ICC World Cup qualifiers) there was little doubt about his skills.
The most important aspect of Lewis, who powered 5 massive sixes against a subdued RCB featuring Southee, Anderson and Chahal, in his personal best of 65, at a time where MI were already 2 early wickets down, was that he stitched useful opening partnerships with Suryakumar Yadav.
Though he could have scored much more, this was just the beginning for the batsman who loves lofted strokes. Who knows what 2019 might bring from Lewis’ blade?
Dwayne Bravo: The Champion all-rounder
What is common between Chennai and Port of Spain? Dwayne Bravo of course! DJ Bravo created music with the meat of the bat when in the famous IPL 2018-opener, he fired explosives during the contest’s death overs to rescue his embattled CSK from the verge of a near-certain defeat. A promising unbeaten 68 announced Bravo this season. Later on, he would lose the sheen off his bat.
But you wondered, was there a more glamorous and well-timed inning in the 60s that you ever saw?
Even as Bravo’s form with the bat became lacklustre after that grizzly inning, he was busy as the ‘specialist of the slower ball’ and succeeded in bamboozling many high-class batsmen with his guile.
Carlos Brathwaite: Remember the name
One of the biggest mysteries of the IPL 2018 was why for the life of them, did the SRH management not play Carlos earlier?
Why was he introduced only during the closing stages of the tournament is something that might challenge the intellect of someone like his SRH captain, Williamson. Even as he picked up 5 wickets and 75 runs from 4 games, including playing a blinder of a knock- that included 43 off 29 balls even as his side ended up being on the losing end versus CSK, he looked in fine touch and seemed confident of producing something epic, only if the Barbadian would’ve been introduced earlier in the series.
While he was expensive in the two games out of the three his SRH played toward the closing stages, he proved once again why he’s such a dangerous addition to any outfit creating an upheaval of sorts courtesy that proliferation of sixes. Brathwaite struck 8 of his 16 IPL sixes this season alone, proving his new residence at Hyderabad was more successful than his stint with DD.