As batsmen, Darren Bravo and Thisara Perera are as different as chalk is from cheese. Bravo is the consummate timer of the cricket ball, all easy grace, while Perera is the ultimate destroyer, giving it a mighty thwack with little disregard for such niceties as timing or elegance. The two left-hand batsmen made contrasting half-centuries at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Tuesday (September 24) night as the Champions League Twenty20 sprang into life. Their thunder, though, almost was stolen by Sunil Narine, the offspinner with magic in his fingers who single-handedly threatened to turn this contest Trinidad & Tobago's way before Perera salvaged a thrilling four-wicket victory for Sunrisers Hyderabad with three balls to spare. (Match highlights)
Bravo's classy 66 had been the bedrock on which T&T, put in by Shikhar Dhawan, had built their challenging total of 160 for 8. It was a slightly misleading total because there was a liberal amount of dew the side bowling second had to contend with. T&T also had to contend with Perera's firepower, the essential difference between the two teams as Hyderabad finished on 164 for 6. (Pics)
It wasn't a one-man show for Hyderabad by any stretch of the imagination. There were valuable contributions from Parthiv Patel, who was dropped on nought and struck on the cheek by a Rayad Emrit bouncer, Dhawan, JP Duminy, Darren Sammy and in the end, Karan Sharma, but no one made the kind of impact Perera did.
Striking the ball crisply and producing a six seemingly at will, Perera knocked the stuffing out of T&T. The decisive over, with the match in the balance and Narine still having one over, was the 17th when Emrit, a bundle of nerves, wilted and conceded 23. It changed the equation from a daunting 44 in 4 overs to 21 in 3, not enough for even Narine to defend all on his own.
Perera remained undefeated on a 32-ball 57 while Karan smashed a four and a six off successive deliveries in the last over sent down by Navin Stewart to trigger wild celebrations in the Hyderabad camp on their Champions League debut.
Even as the rest of the bowling unit feel apart under the sustained Perera onslaught, Narine showed the stuff he is made of, with a wonderful exhibition of guile and craft. His first delivery accounted for Patel, he winkled out G Hanuma Vihari in his third over, a wicket maiden, and then got rid of Darren Sammy and Ashish Reddy with the last two balls of his spell to finish with astonishing figures of 4-1-9-4, ample evidence of the hold he had over the batsmen. It wasn't enough, however.
Despite getting off to the perfect start imaginable with a wicket off Dale Steyn's first ball of the match, Hyderabad were lacklustre with the ball for the most part and ordinary in the field, catches being spilled and the ground fielding tardy and casual. Runs were gifted away without a care in the world as T&T recovered from the first-ball loss of Lendl Simmons in some style, Bravo treating a disappointing crowd - including several fans who have flown over from Trinidad - to some spectacular strokeplay.
There is more than a touch of Brian Lara, the T&T mentor who has made a quick dash to London, to Bravo, and he unleashed his full repertoire in breathtaking fashion, the high backlift and the big flourish of a followthrough in full evidence. Bravo, though, played second fiddle early on to Evin Lewis, the left-hand batsman, paying scant regard to reputation as he latched on to Steyn.
Bravo wasn't to be kept quiet for long. He nonchalantly picked Ishant Sharma up and deposited him way over the long-on fence, the first of several bruising strokes against the paceman. So complete was Bravo's dominance of Ishant that in 18 deliveries, he smashed him for 33 runs including three fours and two sixes, accounting for half his final tally of runs.
Bravo was the equal partner in an entertaining stand of 49 (33b) for the second wicket with Lewis, but totally called the shots in the next meaningful association, 61 off 49 for the third with Jason Mohammed who was by contrast a passive influence. It was during this phase that Bravo's mastery of Ishant, and then Amit Mishra who was struck for giant sixes off consecutive deliveries, was on full view.
Ishant exacted a modicum of revenge when he finally evicted Bravo, and when Sammy accounted for Mohammed, Hyderabad scented the possibility of coming back into the game. Sammy and Thisara Perera, who bowled wicket-to-wicket lines and varied their pace cleverly, kept Hyderabad interested but T&T fed off the extra pace of Steyn. Karan, not called on to bowl his legspinners, put down Stewart on nought and the right-hand batsman responded with 17 in just 13, while Ramdin played a bright little cameo towards the end.