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Dwayne Bravo: ‘Giving young players belief and opportunity’ reason behind Patriots’ title win

St Kitts & Nevis Patriots captain Dwayne Bravo has said that the ‘belief’ in young players played an important role in the team’s maiden Caribbean Premier League title win. Bravo, who has won 15 titles with various T20 sides in his career, also said that this win was among the “top three” as he came into the side – his new CPL franchise – not knowing what to expect.

In a nerve-wracking finish on Wednesday, 23-year old Dominic Drakes emerged as the new hero, as he produced an audacious death-hitting display, to help the Patriots hunt down 160 off the very last ball. With that, the Patriots also completed the highest successful chase in a CPL final. Bravo added that it was the opportunity and backing given to these players that helped them perform under pressure.

“Belief – we gave the people opportunities,” Bravo told the host broadcaster after the match. “All I asked the guys was to back each other – It doesn’t matter whether we perform or not, play or not play, let’s support each other, let’s stay tight, let’s stay together. Giving young players the belief and opportunity – especially Drakes. In my first net session I had with Drakes, I told him: ‘You’re not an emerging player, you’re one of my main players’. All these guys who have come in, even the overseas guys, whether they play or not, the energy on the bench is good.

“[I] want to commend my team. This is for them. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible. To my entire team and owners and most of all the fans of St Kitts – they deserve this, they come out in numbers, were our 12th man, and this is for them.”

“I always wanted an opportunity for [Chris Gayle and me] to play CPL together, now we’re in the same team and now we’re champions together. The Universe Boss and The Champion in one team – one thing can happen.”

Dwayne Bravo

With this trophy, Bravo has won the joint-most T20 titles – the other one at the top being his West Indies captain Kieron Pollard. Ahead of the season, Bravo was traded to Patriots from Trinbago Knight Riders, with whom he had won the title in 2020 – the year Patriots finished at the bottom of the table.

“I challenged myself to come here [to Patriots] and see if I could do something different and I’m very happy,” Bravo said. “This will be right on top even though I’ve won a lot. This will be special because again, it was a new franchise, out of my comfort zone, coming here not knowing what to expect – I think this is maybe in the top three because it’s a young-ish team, a couple of seniors.

“I know how much it means to the guys – Sheldon Cottrell has been here for nine years, Devon Thomas for six years, Evin Lewis seven years. I have had Universe Boss Chris Gayle here, who left and came back. I always wanted an opportunity for both of us to play CPL together, now we’re in the same team and now we’re champions together. The Universe Boss and The Champion in one team – one thing can happen.”

Before the start of the season, Bravo had said that he needed a “new challenge” and that he wanted to nurture young talent. On the day, it was mostly youngsters who had stepped up for the team: Drakes with his 24-ball 48 not out, and Naseem Shah and Fabian Allen with their tidy spells.

“We lost Chris early, we lost Evin early, at that point maybe St Lucia (Kings) thought they had the game at their hands. But we kept believing. The message in the dressing room was that no matter what, take the game deep, you guys have the talent. We might have been a batter short because on this surface we needed protection with an extra bowler. I think [Jon-Russ] Jaggesar had outstanding tournament – as [an] offspinner. Fawad Ahmed, Naseem with his pace – got to give credit to him. It was a great, great team effort. To our coach Simon Helmot, this is our second title together [first in 2015 with Trinidad & Tobago Red Steel]. Very happy to work with a coach like him.”

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