Hussey’s day at Mohali

Michael Hussey… a superb hundred.-PTI

It was Michael Hussey who made the most of the short, straight boundaries at the PCA Stadium at Mohali to hit a match-winning century that catapulted Chennai Super Kings to a whopping 240 for five in 20 overs. Rakesh Rao reports.

These are early days in the Indian Premier League. The players are yet to settle down as a team, the fans still to choose the team to support, the bowlers, especially the spinners, wondering about their role in this overtly batsman-friendly format and the organisers not sure of having packed houses. In short, there is no IPL fever sweeping the country. Not yet, at least. On the brighter side, Brendon McCullum’s savage batting display at Bangalore provided a perfect s tart to the competition. On a pitch where the ‘home’ batsmen struggled to get into double-digits, McCullum hit sixes and fours in double-digits!

On the following day, it was Michael Hussey who made the most of the short, straight boundaries at the PCA Stadium at Mohali to hit a match-winning century that catapulted Chennai Super Kings to a whopping 240 for five in 20 overs. Kings XI Punjab made a spirited attempt and finished at 207 for four.

Interestingly, Hussey reached his 100 in 50 deliveries, three less than what McCullum needed for his century the previous night. Still, when gauged in terms of the ‘recall value,’ McCullum’s knock shall come faster to mind.

Mohali produced plenty of thrills with most stars failing to shine and the moment seized by unlikely heroes. With 447 runs scored in 40 overs, it was a run-feast all the way.

The contest was clearly between Chennai’s batsmen and Punjab’s bowlers. Barring Brett Lee, none of the Punjab pacemen made any impression. S. Sreesanth’s first three deliveries were hit for boundaries by Parthiv Patel. The Kerala bowler had a miserable day. He dropped a low catch in the outfield. Irfan Pathan and James Hopes, too, were treated with disdain. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla went for 19 runs in his lone over. In fact, even when Muttiah Muralitharan bowled for Chennai, he could not command much respect from the batsmen. Among the Chennai batsmen, crowd-pullers like Matthew Hayden and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni were among those who disappointed. But that gave opportunities to younger players like Suresh Raina and S. Badrinath to share the stage with Hussey. If Hussey showed the way with nine sixes and eight fours, Raina hoisted three over the fence before Badrinath joined the act with two sixes.

Hussey stepped on the accelerator to reach his second 50 in just 19 deliveries. With Badrinath, the genial Aussie added 73 runs in just 5.3 overs. In the eventual analysis, this onslaught put the issue beyond the host. Hopes kept alive Punjab’s slim hopes for the first half of the innings with a 33-ball 71, inclusive of three sixes and 10.

Thereafter, Kumar Sangakkara helped himself to a half-century but the chase was clearly off once Yuvraj Singh departed for 23. Still, Punjab had no reasons to feel disgraced.

Though Chennai’s batting might cannot be questioned, its bowling looks suspect. As it appears, the Chennai batsmen will have to be consistent and make more runs than what their bowlers look capable of conceding.

THE SCORES

Chennai Super Kings: Parthiv Patel c Sangakkara b Lee 15; Matthew Hayden b Pathan 25; Michael Hussey (not out) 116; Mahendra Singh Dhoni lbw b Hopes 2; Suresh Raina c Pathan b Mota 32; Jacob Oram b Pathan 13; S. Badrinath (not out) 31; Extras (lb-2, nb-1, w-3) 6; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs) 240.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-57, 3-62, 4-128, 5-167.

Kings XI Punjab bowling: Brett Lee 4-0-35-1; Sreesanth 3-0-35-0; James Hopes 4-0-53-1; Irfan Pathan 4-0-47-2; Karan Goel 2-0-25-0; Piyush Chawla 1-0-19-0; Wilkins Mota 2-0-24-1.

Kings XI Punjab: Karan Goel c Patel b Goni 24; James Hopes c Joginder b Amarnath 71; K. Sangakkara c Joginder b Muralitharan 54; Yuvraj Singh c Amarnath b Joginder 23; S. Katich (not out) 21; Irfan Pathan (not out) 3; Extras (b-2, lb-4, w-5) 11; Total (for four wickets in 20 overs) 207.

Fall of wickets: 1-56, 2-111, 3-153, 4-190.

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Oram 4-0-37-0; Goni 4-0-42-1; Muralitharan 4-0-33-1; Amarnath 4-0-42-1; Joginder Sharma 4-0-47-1.