Michael Hussey setting up victories for Chennai Super Kings with effortless batting of the conventional type is food for thought for teams struggling in Indian Premier League-VI. The Aussie showed that as long as top-order batsmen stick to their strengths, patience at the crease is a virtue even in T20 cricket.
Hussey is among the event’s leading batsmen, without getting into the business of intimidating bowlers. Hussey’s 95 on home turf against Kolkata Knight Riders was another demonstration of lethal batting, without getting brutal at any stage. Runs keep flowing when he is busy at the crease; he’s made 445 runs so far in eight games.
Pune Warriors India’s array of shot-makers Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh and Abhishek Nayar have done little this time to justify their T20 reputations. Tuesday’s match against the Hussey-inspired CSK is a chance to understand from close quarters where they have fallen short.
The trigger-happy PWI batsmen, trying to lift their team off the floor in front of home fans at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium, can only gain by studying video footage of the CSK opener as part of pre-match preparations. Hussey averages an astounding 74.16 from eight innings, has remained not out twice, and hit four half-centuries.
Confident at the top with seven wins and two defeats after nine matches, Chennai is in the process of trying out new opening partners for the Aussie.
Wriddhiman Saha was the first experiment to come off; he matched his accomplished teammate with aggressive hitting and running between wickets, setting the pace for 200 in 20 overs.
Without disturbing the core group, CSK may attempt more mix-and-match gambits.
Dwayne Bravo, with 15 wickets, is the lead performer in the bowling group. The West Indian medium-pacer can turn match-winner on his day. The low, slow bounce at the Sahara wicket will assist the spinners.
After the loss to Mumbai Indians, CSK’s second defeat at home came at PWI’s hands. So much has happened since then that coach Stephen Fleming and captain M.S. Dhoni can afford to shrug off that slip-up.
Warriors’ high came due to the efforts of captain Finch, Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh, with support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. With Sri Lankan Angelo Mathews having to sit out that game at Chennai, adversity brought out the best in his teammates.
Then came the slide as PWI — two wins and seven defeats — is in danger of driving away die-hard fans with their reckless batting.