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Making a mark and revising team roles

Pity about our rained-out game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore but, as I write this, we are sitting in third place after eight games – a good spot to be in and a rather healthy situation for the Chennai Super Kings. That being said, it’s so tight at the moment with just three points separating second from eighth!

The rain also interrupted a good run for me, personally, as I was going into the game off the back of consecutive half-centuries against the Pune Warriors and the Rajasthan Royals. The 58 against Pune helped set up a good total, which we managed to defend, while the 73 from 52 balls against Rajasthan helped us chase down a competitive score.

Suffice to say that I’m really chuffed with my form at the top of the order for the Super Kings. I’m actually a little surprised with how well it’s gone, particularly after sitting out the whole of last year’s competition. But, fortunately, I’ve been able to find what works for me up front, and my plans have come off. I think what has helped is that I’ve felt comfortable hitting the ball over the top, and that is a bonus for an IPL opening batsman. If the hitting over the top doesn’t work, I also have the ability to play more ‘normal’ cricket shots, so I feel I have a couple of strings to my bow. My goal this IPL season was just to make a mark of sorts, and I feel I’ve done that, although I would like to go on and finish the season well.

It was nice to get the Orange Cap for being the leading run-scorer a couple of weeks ago, but Ajinkya Rahane of the Royals currently has the edge on me by 30 runs, so the cap sits with him. Obviously, with the washout, I didn’t have the chance to score 30 more than Rahane and claim the cap back. But, that really isn’t my priority – it’s a nice accolade to be given, but, as always, the team objectives remain the priority.

My success at the top of the order for Chennai has given me more to think about in terms of what role I could play for both the Titans back home, and the South African national one-day team. I definitely think I’ve given the national selectors something to think about when it comes to 20/20 cricket, as I feel I’ve also shown myself something. I have opened for the Titans before, and even though that went well, they’ve always wanted me in the middle order, which is fine.

Going forward, though, if possible, I would like to open for the Titans in 20/20 cricket and see where that takes me. If it goes well, then I’d love to open for the Proteas T20 side, if given the opportunity. However, when it comes to 50-over cricket, I think I have more of a role to play batting at three and four.

It’s been great having Albie Morkel back this week after he had returned home to attend the funeral of former Transvaal and Northern Transvaal batsman, Louis Vorster. It was tough for Albie, because they were so close, but my mate looks like he’s got some closure now, even though it’s been a really difficult time for him.

Off the field, as always, we haven’t been up to too much, with the cricket dominating. But, I’ve had my girlfriend here for the past week. We went off to Fisherman’s Cove for a bit, which was great, as it’s a beautiful part of the world just 45 minutes away from Chennai. It was nice to get in some quality time with the missus.

Aside from that, our washed out game against Bangalore gave me the opportunity to catch up with AB de Villiers, which we don’t often have the opportunity to do. We’ll next see each other towards the end of the tournament, so it was great to catch up with my old mate over a couple of drinks.

I’ll be in touch next week.

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