Dwayne Smith turns into Mumbai Indians’ rockhttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/dwayne-smith-turns-into-mumbai-indians-rock/

Dwayne Smith turns into Mumbai Indians’ rock

Dwayne Smith altered his game as an opener and now tended to take a few balls to settle in.

There are few who would doubt Dwayne Smith’s explosive potential in T20 cricket after his man of the series performance in the CLT20 — 223 runs at 55.75. In a Mumbai Indians line-up of powerful stroke-makers,from Rohit Sharma to Kieron Pollard to Sachin Tendulkar — Smith can sometimes slip under the opposition’s radar but at their own peril. Smith has probably been the difference between Mumbai being an under-performing star-studded unit to one that wins titles. But the 30-year-old from Barbados has done it in uncharacteristic fashion by being a consistent rather than volatile force at the top of the order.

Two years ago,Smith had a crucial decision to make. He’d been out of international cricket for close to 18 months,hadn’t played a Test match for five years,and the explosive middle-order batsman seemed lost to West Indian cricket.

Desperate to change his fortunes,Smith was ready to gamble on a risky move up the order. Then came a vacancy in the Barbados opening department for the shorter formats. Having grabbed it gleefully,the right-hander soon began to make an impact as a T20 opener for his country in 2012.

The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) soon came calling,and Smith ended up being among the highest run-scorers of the tournament for Khulna Royal Bengals,scoring a maiden T20 ton. It brought him back into the West Indies T20 team. But that was not it.

Advertising

Though not originally a part of the IPL’s fifth edition,he was soon drafted into the Mumbai Indians as replacement for Mitchell Johnson. As luck would have it,Mumbai were continuing to struggle with finding a stable opening combination,having tried close to a dozen already. Smith fit in perfectly.

Nicknamed the Agent,Smith altered his game as an opener and now tended to take a few balls to settle in rather than starting off in fifth gear. And he hasn’t minded dropping the ball and scampering for singles in the early going. As a result,Smith’s strike-rate over the last two IPLs and in other tournaments has come down. But crucially,he’s also managed to enhance his consistency. Mumbai Indians aren’t complaining.

Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai,

bharat.sundaresan@expressindia.com