St. Lucia: Michael Hussey is not the hardest striker of the ball, yet has to be the best finisher in the game. The calmness of the mind, even under immense pressure, is his strength.
Time after time this left-hander with the right attitude gets Australia out of jail. His astonishing 24-ball unbeaten 60 will be part of cricketing folklore. What an innings!
Hussey pulled off the impossible in the last two overs of a jaw-dropping ICC World Twenty20 semifinal against an inspired Pakistan on Friday.
At the end of the humdinger the arena was a sea of emotions.
The stress mounted but Hussey marshalled the chase with heart, tact and skill in the end overs. Importantly, his belief never deserted him.
He is strong on either foot, can be punishing in front of the wicket, can cut and pull or play the delivery late to harness the pace on the ball. His stroke-play stems from a secure defence and, like most great batsmen, he picks the length quickly.
High quality batting
It was high quality batting when Hussey collected 16 runs off the 19th over, sent down by left-arm paceman Mohammed Aamer, without seeming to takes risks.
He understands the dynamics of the arena, the field placings, the angles and the possibilities.
The left-hander's placements were perfect and he ran faster between the wickets than most 34-year-olds would; Pakistan ran out of ideas.
No wonder they call Hussey Mr. Cricket.
Australia required 18 from the last over bowled by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Skipper Michael Clarke, a hardened Aussie cricketer, conceded he could not bear most of the final over.
“I could not watch the final over once Mitch (Johnson) took a single off the first ball. I was in the dressing room when I heard the cheers and I knew it was a six. Then I heard another one and asked myself what's going on,” revealed Clarke.
Hussey's three sixes off Ajmal were clean, calculated strikes. He picked the length cleanly and backed himself to strike against the spin. This was no mindless slogging; Hussey picks his spots in the arena.
The Australian captain called the performance “unbelievable and freakish” but added, “I can believe it because of the guy sitting next to me (Hussey).”
The southpaw averages 52.16 in Tests, 53.71 in ODIs and 36.09 in T20s with a terrific strike-rate of 141.81. He's versatile.
Hussey is having a dream run in the tournament; he performed the rescue act in the late middle order against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as well.
He has 171 runs from six matches at a stunning 85.50. Given the kind of batsman Hussey is, his strike rate of 176.28 is incredible.
Cameron White, with whom Hussey shared a crucial partnership on Friday, played a valuable hand too. The big-hitting White has made 150 runs at 50.00 with a strike-rate of 144.23 in the ongoing tournament.
Hussey said it was, perhaps, his best moment for Australia. “It was such a big day and I was having so many doubts, I had a feeling it was not going to be our day.
Hussey changed all that. “It was great to see the smiles on the faces of the boys,” he said. He has a cool head and a welter of shots. And he comprehends the finishing line.