michael hussey

Views of a Chennai Super Fan – In the end, Mr Cricket is the real winner

Match: Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals in Chennai

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 5 wickets

Narrative:

The Royals chose to bat first, and were single-handedly powered to a mammoth score by Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson, who scored a belligerent ton (also the first of IPL-6). He was particularly harsh on CSK’s new favorite, Jadeja, who cracked in his third over conceding 18 runs including two sixes and two big wides. Stuart Binny was the only other batsman who made a substantial contribution and Ashwin was the only bowler who ended with decent bowling figures. It left the Super Kings needing 186 to win the game.

The Super Kings were in control of the chase, right from the start. Despite Vijay’s failure (again), Hussey and Raina never let the required rate shoot up. Raina scored a much-needed half century with contained some trademark shots of his, while Hussey continued his rich vein of form to score a match-winning 88 from 51 balls which completely neutralized Watson’s century. Despite a late stutter, Bravo’s six in the final over bowled by Watson ensured that CSK would move right to the top of the points table.

Analysis:

It was refreshing to finally see the Super Kings break the back of a chase in the power play overs. Last time I mentioned how their strategy of keeping their push for victory too late would not work every time, and that they need to retune their strategy; it seems like they paid attention. It also helped that chasing a mammoth target meant that they would have to come out all guns blazing from the word ‘go’. For a team which boasts of an enviable depth in batting, they really should bat more confidently and more often. Hopefully, they will make this a trend.

First, the disappointments. There were two, namely Murali Vijay and Ravindra Jadeja. Both were stars of the last Test series against Australia and both were in contrasting form in this IPL, up to the start of this game. Except for a run-a-ball fifty against KXIP, Vijay has had a shoddy time with the bat, and moreover he doesn’t project an air of self-confidence either. Honestly, I don’t see how he can survive the axe for the next game. Baba Aparjith can be given a chance, considering his allround skills.

As for Jadeja, this game was bound to happen sooner than later. He was tonked mercilessly by Watson and he seemed to crack from the pressure bowling two huge wides in his third over. With the bat, he lasted for a mere two deliveries before getting his stumps knocked out of the ground. If he was floating in the air after all the “Sir” jokes and mass adulation, he would have come back to earth with a thud after this game.

We also got our first look at Jason Holder, the tall West Indian bowler. Nothing special about his performance though; unless he picks wickets by the bunch in the next couple of games, I don’t see him getting picked over Nannes, Laughlin or Hilfenhaus in the future.

It was great to see Raina back in fine form; he is one of the finest T20 players around, and the Super Kings would have heaved a sigh of relief when they saw his meaty blows to the fence. Undoubtedly, the real hero for CSK this year has been Michael Hussey. Free of national commitments, Mr Cricket has narrowed his focus to performing for CSK with all the zeal and determination of a player trying to make his mark among the big boys. With his third fifty this year, he has zoomed to the top of the run charts and established himself as CSK’s most prized wicket; and that’s saying something considering the rich array of batsmen that the men in yellow possess.

Preview of next game:

Hyderabad Sunrisers in Chennai. Without Perera and Sangakarra, the team will be considerably weakened; but the likes of Mishra , Steyn, White and Vihari, with the possible inclusion of World Cup winning skipper Darren Sammy, will ensure a tough contest for the Super Kings. The Sunrisers are third in the points table and they will itching to show just why.

 

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Views of a Chennai Super Fan – When Sir was enough for the Knights

Match: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings in Kolkata

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 4 wickets

Narrative:

Kolkata Knight Riders batted first and Gambhir opened with a new partner in Yusuf Pathan. The move seemed to have worked as KKR raced to 46 in 6 overs, as they take full toll of Albie Morkel in particular. It took a Hussey special at third man to trigger a slide, as Gambhir was the first one to get dismissed. Two balls later, a direct hit from Badri sent Kallis on his way without facing a delivery; Morgan and Pathan followed quickly, and just like that KKR had lost 4 wickets for 9 runs in the space of 13 deliveries. Tiwary and Das staged a mini fight-back, but once Ashwin scalped both of them in consecutive overs, Jadeja picked three other lower order wickets as KKR stalled to 119/9 from their allotted overs.

In response, Dhoni surprised everyone by sending Ashwin to open the innings with Hussey. The move didn’t totally work out as Narine broke the opening partnership in the fifth over. Soon, errors of judgment accounted for both Vijay and Raina, and CSK were staring at a familiar top order failure. It turned into dire straits when Dhoni was dismissed with the target still 66 runs away and 51 deliveries remaining. Hussey stood solid at one end, but his slow scoring seemed to hurt CSK as the required rate kept creeping up. The arrival of Jadeja at the fall of Badri’s wicket changed all that. Twenty too balls later, Jadeja stood tall with an unbeaten 36 from 14 deliveries as he stole another win for CSK.

Analysis:

First of all, let me just state for the record that sometimes it can be frustrating to be a fan of the men in yellow. They always seem to push themselves into a situation where they need a minor miracle to win a game. Despite the target being a paltry 120, the batsmen batted themselves into a situation where they needed 50 from the last five overs. That they won is another matter; it is high-risk tactic for CSK despite their depth in batting, and it might not come off in a given crucial encounter.

A few words of praise for the fielding. In a tournament which has seen a dramatic improvement in fielding standards from last year’s edition, it is good to see that the Super Kings are one of the finest exponents of it. Hussey’s well judged catch, Badri’s direct hit when he had one stump to aim at, Bravo’s fielding and throw for run out (off his own bowling) – all this would make the fielding coach Steve Rixon a proud man.

The bowling seems to be fine-tuned with the exception of one specialist bowler. Nannes’ injury had opened the way for Morkel, who has not really inspired confidence; even the rookie Mohit Sharma is bowling better than him. Apart from that, the consistency of Morris and the spinners is reassuring.

Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina continue to be a source of concern for Fleming and Dhoni. Their attacking style is supposed to bookend the likes of Hussey and Badrinath, who play more of a stabilizing role in the side. Their failures have been the cause of the batting stutters so far in this tournament, and it has required Dhoni and Jadeja to bail them out often. It is highly likely that one of them will be missing from the playing XI for next game.

Ravindra Jadeja is turning out to be CSK’s most valuable player this season. With the ball, he is miserly and keeps picking up wickets. On the field, he is a live-wire, saving precious runs. And now, he has taken over from Dhoni, as the team’s savior with the bat for the second time in a week. In a team full of stars, the Rockstar is the man dragging the team to the top of the table.

Preview of next game:

Next up, CSK take on the Rajasthan Royals aka Dravid’s men in Chennai. The Royals have been one of the consistent teams this year, despite the lack of big stars in their line-up. What they do have is a bunch of performers who combine well enough to win most games; Watson, Rahane, Dravid and Hodge with the bat; and Cooper/Tait, Trivedi, Sreesanth and Chandila with the ball – CSK will do well to re-jig their strategy accordingly.

Tweet of the game:

Views of a Chennai Super Fan – No Dares From the Double D

Match: Delhi Daredevils vs Chennai Super Kings

Result: Chennai Super Kings win by 86 runs

Narrative:

MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first in CSK’s 100th game; Nannes missed out due to injury paving way for the return of rookie Mohit Sharma and Mike Hussey came back in place of Srikkanth. Despite Vijay’s dismissal after a rapid start, Hussey and Raina stabilized the ship taking the score to 60/1 after 10 overs. When Raina got out in the 13th over, the skipper walked and immediately took control. A frenetic 44 from 23 balls meshed perfectly with Hussey’s unbeaten 65 to take the Super Kings to 169.

In reply, the Daredevils got off to the worst start, trudging to 32/4 in the power play; Little known Haryana medium pacer Mohit Sharma snared the wickets of Warner, Juneja and Sehwag while Chris Morris got the big fish – Jayawardene. Despite Kedhar Jadav’s resistance, the Super Kings put the brakes on the scoring and kept picking wickets regularly. Ultimately, the Daredevils were bowled out for 83; Along with the lowest score of the IPL this year, DD crashed to their sixth straight loss of the tournament. Meanwhile, CSK jumped to the fourth position in the points table.

Analysis:

This was just about the perfect game for the Super Kings. Their batting finally shook off the blues; Vijay was looking good for much more when he got out and Raina got some runs under his belt. The batting relies heavily on acceleration in the second half of the innings and it came off perfectly, as Raina, Hussey and Dhoni helped add 109 runs in the final 10 overs. With the ball, their punt on rookie Sharma paid off handsomely as he gave the team a perfect start with the ball. Then the spinners took over to strangle the opposition with combined figures of 3/39 from 8 overs. The end result was a massive win for the men in yellow.

Mike Hussey showed why he is such an invaluable member of the side. He might be no Chris Gayle, but he can be much more consistent and reliable. He paced his innings just right, till the end. Despite du Plessis’ return to the side, it is highly unlikely that the Aussie will be the one to make way for him. Vijay and Raina are still not racking up the big scores, but they show signs of good touch. As for Dhoni, it is good to see that the skipper is in ‘smashing’ form. More often than not, he has struggled in T20s over the years with regards to pacing his knock. This year, there is a refreshingly simple approach to his batting and he is more trusting of his natural game.

Nannes’ injury proved to be a blessing in disguise as it made the Super Kings take another look at their local fast bowling resources. Mohit Sharma had a good game, but it would be wise to wait a few games before judging him; tougher opponents await. I’m also liking the look of Chris Morris so far; while his batting exploits are to be seen yet, his bowling has largely been disciplined and he seems to have the knack of picking wickets at crucial junctures. He would have every reason to think that he has sealed one overseas spot for himself, for the rest of the season. No surprises when it comes to the spinners; they are CSK’s strength and the team management will be pleased that they are maintaining their good record.

Preview of next game:

Next up is the encounter against defending champions KKR in their den. Gambhir’s men are a lowly 7th in the points table and their performances are more reminiscent of the KKR seen in the first two seasons; still it would be unwise to take them lightly. Gambhir and Morgan are in good touch, while Narine has been consistently troubling the opposition. CSK would do well to bring their A-game against a side which derailed their plans of a 3rd consecutive title last year.

Tweets of the game:

Views of a Chennai Super Fan – The One Where The Hussey In Yellow Comes Out On Top

Match: Kings XI Punjab vs Chennai Super Kings in Mohali

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 10 wickets

Narrative: MS Dhoni won the toss and inserted the Kings XI in to bat first. Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, it looked like Kings XI were headed for a 180+ total, when David Hussey and Gurkeerat Singh were at the crease and scoring runs freely. Then at the start of the 14th over, Hussey holed out to long off which triggered an inexplicable collapse. Bravo and new man Chris Morris joined hands to pick off the remaining batsmen, as Kings XI lost their last seven wickets for 32 runs. Still, a target of 139 should have been tricky considering the performance of the Kings XI bowlers in the last game. Instead, Michael Hussey (aka Mr Cricket) and Murali Vijay (aka Monk) gave a batting exhibition worthy of their monikers to take the Super Kings to a crushing 10 wicket victory in the 18th over. It was not without drama of course as a dicey third umpire decision, a dropped catch and a missed stumping all went in favor of the CSK openers; yet it was a dominating performance by the visitors as they outclassed the hosts in all departments of the game.

Analysis: Going into this game, the Super Kings were at the bottom of the table while the Kings XI were at the top; both unfamiliar positions for the teams. Soon, order was restored though. Kings XI kept scoring runs freely in the first half of their innings but they also lost three of their top order batsmen in the process. Once Hussey got out, the Super Kings showed why they are so good by packing off the rest in clinical fashion. Vijay’s dropped catch early on in the innings was the only blemish, as the men in yellow were flawless on the field for the rest of the time. Even Ashwin took a spectacular diving catch. It was that kind of night. Also impressive was the bowling performance of Chris Morris, the South African all rounder who replaced Laughlin in the XI. With Bravo and Albie Morkel sealing the positions of two overseas all-rounders in the XI, it will be hard for Morris to retain his place when Morkel is fully fit; still, he has not done any harm to his chances and his performances with the bat will be closely watched.

What is left to be said about Michael Hussey? For a man who has stepped away from the highest levels of the game, he still plays with a lot of passion and skill, which his compatriots sorely lacked in the past couple of months. A strike rate of 159 might indicate that he threw his bat around, but his innings was anything but slam-bang. Placement, timing and right shot selection – that was all it took for a commanding 86 off 54 balls. His partner Murali Vijay played a very sensible knock with a sedate run-a-ball 50; his performance in the recent Test series has seemed to have changed his mentality and it showed as he willing to bide his time and give his partner the support he needed. All these augur well for the Super Kings as they head for tougher contests in the coming weeks.

Preview: Next up is the game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are probably the most impressive team of this edition so far. Chris Gayle is always a perennial danger, but now the likes of Kohli, de Villiers and Henriques are doing their own part too. While Murali will not play in Chennai, the likes of Vettori, Kartik, Vinay Kumar and RP Singh will prove to be tougher for the CSK batsmen. How the men in yellow fare against them will give an early clue to how well the team have shaken off their rustiness. Either way, it should make for a terrific contest.

Tweet of the game:

https://twitter.com/ABVan/status/322039723352797184

(Pictures courtesy of ESPNCricinfo and IPLT20.com)

Chennai Super Kings – Where Champions Are Made

There’s a well known saying that goes, ‘Champions are made, not born’. Chennai Super Kings are a prime example of that adage. Here is a team that comprises of an eclectic mix of players from different cultures, languages and experiences, who when playing under the same banner, manage to win trophies regularly. So, what makes them different from the other 9 teams who can boast of similar compositions?

To read the rest of my article, head over here…..

World Cup injuries update: One man’s boon is another’s bane

 

 

 

 

 

 

With less than 10 days to go, dreams have already been crushed for a few players, while for others who were initially passed over, the chance to shine on the biggest stage of all, beckons.

Out go Michael Hussey, Nathan Hauritz, Praveen Kumar and Eoin Morgan – all ruled out due to different injuries; by no means, this list is complete. Expect few others (mostly from England) to join this list in the coming days.

In come Callum Ferguson, Jason Krejza, Sreesanth and Ravi Bopara – who all (with the exception of Krejza) had reasons to be aggrieved due to their exclusions from the original squads.

Hussey’s absence is a huge blow for a struggling Australian batting line-up. They might have won the recent ODI series at home comfortably, but in the subcontinent, against fresher sides they will need someone of Hussey’s experience and caliber to pull them through the inevitable collapses that are bound to happen. Callum Ferguson has an impressive record in ODIs, but he has huge shoes to fill.

The loss of Hauritz is another blow. While he was fit during the Ashes, the selectors were blind to him; but when they pick him for the World Cup, he comes down with an injury. He is possibly the only threatening spinner in Australia and Krejza will not have the same impact as Hauritz, despite his heroics in India on Test debut.

I am not too sure about how much Praveen Kumar’s absence will be felt. Despite being an important part of the bowling attack for a while, of late he has dropped off in form (possibly related to his fitness issues). So, it might be a blessing in disguise for India to get a fitter, more fiery Sreesanth instead.

On the other hand, England’s chances just took a hit after Morgan’s exclusion. He was the major reason for England’s improved ODI performances and his ice cool temperament with innovative strokes will be missed. Bopara is in good form, and it remains to be seen whether he can replicate that in the World Cup. To make matters worse, there are still a few others in the squad, over whom injury concerns still remain. Even if one or two of them can’t make it, England can kiss their chances good-bye.