The Hussey factor
Chris Gayle might well be the glamour batsman of the IPL but Mike Hussey is the run machine.
Gayle is explosive and dynamic. He is brilliant to watch. Hussey has proved there is another way of being as effective in winning matches as well. He is the ultimate professional. His work ethic is second to none. He might be workmanlike, but he is every bit as effective as Gayle. He contributes to winning matches by pacing his innings to perfection.
Due to the Hussey factor the Chennai Super Kings are on fire. There is no doubt that the Aussies are going to miss the Hussey factor in the upcoming Ashes series. How they could have allowed the situation to transpire that Hussey retired from international cricket before the upcoming Ashes series is inconceivable. It shows the mess that Australian cricket is in at the moment.
It is well documented that problems between Hussey and some of the team hierarchy in Australia led to his sudden retirement. When one looks at the Australian squad selected for the tournament the batting lineup is pretty thin.
The Aussies even resorted to recalling 36-year-old Chris Rogers to boost their flagging batting resources. Rogers has only played one test match for his country and earned his selection this time through performing consistently in county cricket as an overseas player. They may well rue the fact that the dependable Hussey won't be there to stabilise a vulnerable middle order.
Getting back to the Super Kings. I said in an earlier column that they have arguably got the best combination in this edition of the IPL. They have been the most consistent and successful team in the tournament's history and they will take some beating this time as well. The current Super Kings combination is their best yet. The teams they had in all the previous tournaments were all strong but none as strong as this one.
The other factor that is clearly noticeable is how motivated skipper MS Dhoni is in this year’s event. In the past he has gone through the motions during certain parts of the tournament. Not this time. He has been full of energy and enthusiasm.
His intensity has rubbed off on the rest of the team. He is again performing a good finishing role with the bat. The tournament is just over the halfway stage and they have already just about qualified for the playoffs. They need just one win to reach that goal.
I am not suggesting that the Super Kings will win the event. They will certainly make the semifinal. In the knockout phase anything can happen. What is clear though is that the team who beats them will have to have their best day.