IPL 2024: CSK batting coach Hussey says Dhoni ‘keeps getting better’, hints at Sameer Rizvi filling Rayudu’s role

Hussey also said that Rachin Ravindra and even Ajinkya Rahane might open the innings in Devon Conway’s absence.

Published : Mar 18, 2024 15:11 IST , CHENNAI - 4 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey.
FILE PHOTO: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

FILE PHOTO: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey. | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey on Monday alluded to the reverse-aging fictional character Benjamin Button to convey that CSK captain MS Dhoni is as match-fit and has been batting as well as ever during practice in the lead-up to the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which begins with CSK’s home match versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on March 22.

“He’s preparing really well. His knee seems good at this stage. And he’s batting extremely well at the moment. I must admit he’s like Benjamin Button! He keeps getting better,” he said at the inauguration of the Pavit Singh Nayar Memorial All India inter-college T20 cricket tournament for men and women at the Guru Nanak College in Chennai.

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Hussey added that Dhoni will reprise his batting role from last season.

“He’s not as young as he used to be. So, the scampering between the wickets is going to be more difficult for him. But at the back end of the innings, where there’s not as much sprinting, he can still hit the ball very cleanly. And he’s hitting the ball extremely well at the moment. It’s great to see.”

Mounting injury concerns

CSK opener Devon Conway and pacer Matheesha Pathirana are set to miss the first set of fixtures due to injury. Speaking about it, he said, “Well, of course, they’re world-class players. So, it’s going to be difficult to replace them. But we feel like we’ve got enough depth in the squad to be able to cover it at this stage. But, of course, we’re going to miss them. One, for their skills, but also their character around the team as well. So, yes, I mean every team has its injury challenges. You just have to deal with it as best you can. I think we’ve put together a really good squad with a lot of depth. So, I feel like we can cover it well.”

The 48-year-old said that Rachin Ravindra and even Ajinkya Rahane might open the innings in Conway’s absence.

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“We’ve got Rachin Ravindra, who’s coming in, who plays a similar style to Devon Conway. There are other options as well. Ajinkya Rahane played so well last year. He could also move up the order. So, I’m not sure which way the captain and the coach want to go at this stage. But, as I said, I think we’ve got enough depth to be able to cover it in certain ways.”

On the latest ODI World Cup’s breakout star Ravindra, he added, “Well, I think during the World Cup was the first time I saw him and I was so impressed with the way he went about his game. Beautiful technique. Beautiful strokeplay. A real appetite for scoring runs, which I think is important as well.

“And you can just tell he just loves the game. So, they’re the sort of players I love. Love talking to about the game. He wants to improve as well. He’s like a sponge. He just wants to improve every single day. Much like Devon Conway when he first came to CSK as well. So, really looking forward to working with him. Really excited to watch him play. And excited to try and help him get better and better and better as a player.”

Rizvi potential swap for Rayudu

CSK bought the 20-year-old Uttar Pradesh batter Sameer Rizvi for a whopping Rs. 8.40 crore in the auction. Rizvi, with two centuries and a fifty, scored 455 runs in 10 matches at an average of over 50 and a strike rate of over 188 in the UP T20 League last year. Most recently, he smashed a triple ton (312) versus Saurashtra in the Col. CK Nayudu Trophy quarterfinal.

Speaking about the youngster’s role in the team, Hussey said, “Well, I think (he’ll bat) somewhere in the middle-order. He’s obviously a natural striker of the ball. I only saw him for the first time yesterday (Sunday). He looks a very talented young prospect. So, I’m looking forward to working with him personally and just helping him improve his game, obviously for this tournament, but also for the years moving forward. One thing, we want him to do well in this IPL, but there’s much more years left in his career.”

Asked if Rizvi is being looked at to play Ambati Rayudu’s role from last season of scoring in quick bursts, the Australian said, “Most definitely. I think he can definitely play that role. I mean Ambati Rayudu is someone that has so much experience and he’s played for so long. So, he’s a seasoned campaigner, whereas Rizvi is just starting out in his IPL career. So, we can’t expect Rizvi to be doing exactly what Rayudu has been doing for so many years. But, of course, we can start developing him and he’s got a lot of natural ability. So, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see how far he can go.”

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