That Chennai Super Kings have pulled away from the bottom half and raced towards the top of the IPL VI table with two narrow wins is no surprise. After all they possess in their ranks,some of the most clinical finishers the T20 format has ever seen. And from Hussey,Dhoni,Bravo right up to the man-of-the-moment Jadeja,they have been buoyed by some incredible performances from their star players. How Sunrisers Hyderabad have managed an identical win-loss ratio as CSK after seven outings though is a mystery.
None of their batsmen have really come to the party. Not one averages over 25,only three have strike-rates over 100 and the only half-century came in vain from Cameron White. Where they have trumped opposition teams is with their incisive bowling with the likes of Steyn,Mishra and Ishant Sharma among the highest wicket-takers this season. Theyll be hoping that their batsmen do come to the party in Chennai to stop the CSK juggernaut.
MICHAEL CONTINUES TO ROCK
HE has spoken incessantly about being more relaxed since hanging up his boots from international cricket. And much to Chennais delight,Hussey has looked equally serene in the middle,nonchalantly guiding them to easy victories in tough run-chases. A target of 186 was a massive one even for the Super Kings super batting line-up but Hussey never let the run-rate or the momentum dip for his team,and carried them within touching distance of it with a blistering 88. His has been one of the few long-term commitments with a single franchise,and CSKs loyalty towards the Australian veteran is paying off once again this season.
REHEARSING FOR THE SAFARI
STEYN did take a couple of seasons to warm up to the IPL,but since his move to Hyderabad,hes been nothing less than a phenomenon. Fast and furious as always,the South African ace of pace has not only been his franchises main wicket-taker,hes also proved nearly impossible to be scored off. Last season,he struggled for support at the other end. But the return of a lanky,towering pace partner at the other end-something hes used to-has spurred him on more in IPL VI,and hes presently the most economical bowler in the tournament. On Thursday,Steyn and Ishant Sharma will be targeting one guy in particular,whos certain to be the formers nemesis and the latters teammate come Indias tour to South Africa later this year. Unfortunately though,Murali Vijay has been one of the duds for the Super Kings,surprisingly after his great run against Australia,and hes only going to have his task cut out to get the better of Sunrisers speed demons.
DECODING THE MYSTERY
THERE was a time not long ago when Ravichandran Ashwin was an understudy of senior spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra. The last two years though have seen a meteoric rise in the Tamil Nadu off-spinners stocks to the extent that hes superseded both his predecessors and left them in his wake. Ashwins dazzled with his mystery variations so far with an average of 17.11 and an economy of 5.7. And hes done so by giving dollops of flight,tantalizing the batsmen into making errors. If theres any spinner whos matched him for guile and skill during this IPL,then its Mishra. The leg-spinner from the Sunrisers probably has been more effective. And Mishra too has rediscovered his mojo with the ball by sticking to his strengths of beating his opponents in the air and leaving them clueless. While his Malingaesque four in four against Pune Warriors has been the bowling performance of the season,hes been prolific at getting breakthroughs in the middle overs for Hyderabad.