Chennai Super Kings v Sydney Sixers, Group B, CLT20, Jo'burg October 14, 2012

Henriques outshines bright lights

Moises Henriques wasn't the most high-profile Australian cricketer on show in Johannesburg but he out-performed his countrymen

Combine the frontline Australian bowlers in this match and they will form a potentially imposing and exciting attack. Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus shared the new ball for Chennai Super Kings, and the young trio of Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins took the field for Sydney Sixers. Throw Shane Watson into the mix and, with Mitchell Johnson to come on next as part of Mumbai Indians, you see why Australia are spoilt for choice this summer.

Of course, the 20-over format is not the best stage to see them in action. Even on a pitch that, as MS Dhoni said, "did a bit early on, to be honest," and had good bounce, they were always going to become victims of butchery and blazing.

Hilfenhaus bowled two impressive overs at the start of the innings, during which he found swing and beat the bat with short-of-a-length deliveries. When he returned for the final over, none of the same skill was on display because he had to resort to damage control.

Bollinger had a similar experience: he was economical in his first spell and took a pasting in his last over. Chennai chose to leave out Albie Morkel, not because of his ankle injury but in order to play "our best batsmen in [Michael] Hussey and Faf [du Plessis]," according to Dhoni, and did not have anyone to contain at the end. "Where we lacked was the death bowling," Dhoni admitted. "We gave away about 15 runs too many." Incidentally, the margin of defeat was 14.

For Sydney, Hazlewood and Starc started well too. Hazlewood had Hussey playing tentatively and Starc claimed the wicket of M Vijay with a ball that swung in viciously. Cummins was quick, as expected, and although his pace harried the Chennai batsmen, he was expensive.

However, there was another bowler who may not immediately stand out as being one to notice. Moises Henriques was the day's unlikely hero, with an all-round performance that sealed the match for Sydney. Henriques was the difference between a total Dhoni thought was gettable and one that Haddin thought was "definitely enough" to defend.

And when that total started looking as though it may be reachable, Henriques ensured it was not with his bowling. He used clever changes of pace and was fortunate to have two superb catches taken off his bowling to cap off a match to remember. While his performance would have come as a surprise to "a lot of the people in this room and elsewhere," Haddin told a fairly empty press conference venue, it was something the Sydney management was expecting.

"It's been coming for a while. What I've noticed over the last six months is that Moises trains to be a better cricketer," Haddin said. "That's the sign of a lot of great cricketers - they train to better themselves. This performances isn't a shock to us."

Henriques said it was tougher with the bat for him, especially in the early parts of his innings. "For the first ten balls, I was just trying to get off strike," he said. Henriques scored eight runs off his first nine balls, giving himself time to get his eye in. "Once the ball lost that hardness and wasn't shooting through anymore, then I could have a bit more of a go."

The challenge for Henriques is to make sure a performance like this one is not a one-off, and that he can he can build on it to make a case for higher honours. He thinks he can. "I'm hoping that I've learnt enough over the last few years for this to be happening more often," he said.

Haddin believes it will, especially given Henriques recent form. He scored at least a half-century in his last four innings, including a 161 against Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield, and taken seven wickets in his last two matches. "We, at Sydney, have been witnessing thus sort of thing from him over the last month. It's good that he could do it on the world stage," Haddin said. It's this stage that will remind everyone of the depth in Australian cricket at the moment.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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