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Braced for one more big week

I’m writing this about 24 hours before our big qualifier against the Mumbai Indians in Mumbai – a huge game for us, but one we’re confident about.

Personally, I’ve also got a lot of confidence after some consistent form and getting 50 in my most recent game against the Kings XI Punjab.

That came batting at number three, which was obviously a little bit of a change in strategy that came from the skipper, MS Dhoni.

Suresh Raina, who usually bats three, has been an important player for us for a long time and I just think the feeling Dhoni had was to change things around a bit.

It also meant us being a bit more conservative after losing those two early wickets against the Kings XI, as that is what I bring to the party -- more so than Suresh, who is more aggressive than me.

By having more wickets in hand, we’re able to bring our powerful batting line-up into play, with the bigger hitters down the order.

I think I’ve adapted nicely to the number four position, but just haven’t been able to convert a lot of 20s and 30s into 60s or 70s, through either getting myself out or being a bit unlucky.

Batting three obviously gives me a bit more time at the crease, though, as well as opportunities to construct a longer innings, while making sure not to let the strike rate drop too much.

I am, though, very chuffed to have the opportunity to bat three.

So, up next the big clash with the Mumbai Indians. If we lose, we get another bite at the cherry in another qualifier, due to us finishing top of the standings.

That’s the benefit of making sure you are consistent through the league games.

From a selection point of view, the loss of Brendon McCullum is huge for us. He’s gone to join up with New Zealand in England and he will leave a big hole in our batting line-up.

He’s just such a destructive player and an important one for us at the top of the order. That being said, we’ve replaced him with Mike Hussey, who has incredible experience and is the ultimate pro.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve got to know Brendon quite well over the course of this and previous IPLs. He’s an amazing guy and someone I’ve got a lot of respect for.

He’s a great leader and has a fantastic outlook and approach to cricket, which I think has led to his success with New Zealand.

It’s actually a similar approach to what we have with the Proteas, with the players asked to buy into a certain culture and build a team ethic.

Looking at the other teams in the knockout stages, it’s funny, because I really thought the Kolkata Knight Riders would be there as they looked incredibly strong.

They will also be kicking themselves, because the final is in Kolkata. Then you have a team like the Sunrisers, who might have made the playoffs had David Warner not stepped over the boundary when catching RCB’s Virat Kohli in that game a few days ago.

So, the margins are small and those are ultimately the difference.

As it is, it’s the Chennai Super Kings, the Mumbai Indians, the Royal Challengers Bangalore,and the Rajasthan Royals in the knockout stages.

It’s the final week of this year’s IPL and while I’m still definitely looking forward to getting home to Cape Town and spending some time relaxing there, I have one more big, important week here.

I’ll touch base next week.

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