In the torrent of boundaries that rained on Chepauk on March 31, even the most rabid followers of Chennai Super Kings might have missed Murali Vijay's singular achievement.
Boundaries and more
It is not often that Australian giant Mathew Hayden gets outscored by his opening partner. But on that clammy evening against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Vijay managed exactly that, galloping into the 30s before Hayden had barely got off the mark. Vijay's 39-ball 78 against Bangalore sent his Test match image hurtling into orbit, also fashioning a desperately required win for Chennai, which, at that stage, needed six wins from seven matches to stay in contention for the semis. The next day, on April 1, Vijay turned 26. And two days later, against Rajasthan Royals at the same venue, the cat-eyed opening bat supplemented his new-found status as a remorseless, boundary-spewing demon. Vijay plastered 11 sixes against the likes of Shaun Tait and Shane Warne on his way to a 56-ball 127, just the third hundred by an Indian in the IPL, after Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan. The century took Chennai to the highest score ever in IPL (246) and ensured the second win on the bounce for M.S. Dhoni's team.
Among the deluge of hits that afternoon, a couple stood out: A vicious pull, in Shaun Tait's third over, that cleared the stadium, and a half-slash, off the same bowler, that deposited the ball over widish third-man using the pace of the delivery. Always a performer with promise in the Test arena, Vijay's coming good in the slap-dash world of the IPL is another proof that those who succeed in the longest format are usually good enough to make an impact across the spectrum of the sport.