Hussey sets up comfortable win for Chennai
Chennai Super Kings 183 for 5 (Hussey 83*, Vijay 31) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 162 for 7 (de Villiers 64, Randiv 2-24)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Michael Hussey began his 2011 IPL season by wading into Royal Challengers Bangalore's attack in an innings that was reminiscent of his famous assault on Pakistan in the 2010 World Twenty20. Chennai Super Kings flexed their top-order muscle around Hussey's enterprise to power their way to 183, and the lack of Paul Valthaty-esque intent in Bangalore's chase meant they ran out easy winners. Bangalore's batting once again suffered from muddled thinking after their fielding fell apart in a rash of schoolboy errors. To make matters worse, their support bowlers bled 101 runs off nine overs, wasting the efforts of Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori and Virat Kohli, who bowled the remaining 11 for 82.
Facing a tough chase, Bangalore tried a pinch-hitter at No. 3 for the second game running. Walking in after Tillakaratne Dilshan's early dismissal, Asad Pathan began by smearing two fours and a six off Albie Morkel, but departed attempting a hare-brained scoop against Tim Southee. AB de Villiers then batted with needless caution, much like he had against Mumbai Indians, and Bangalore suffered once again. They made only 113 runs in the 16 overs following Pathan's attack of Morkel. Kohli could not pick up enough singles, Saurabh Tiwary could not hit boundaries, and Cheteshwar Pujara holed out under pressure. de Villiers eventually opened up against Southee and took 15 runs from the 18th over, but by then the required-rate was above 18 and it was too late to spoil the Chepauk crowd's evening.
Chennai's celebrations were set up by Hussey's brilliance with the bat. Crouching low at the crease, with feet ready to scramble forward or back depending on the lengths, Hussey preyed on leg-stump offerings with his signature sweeps, pulls and lashes. Eight of his eleven boundaries came through the on side, four of those through square leg. On the rare occasions when the ball was angled across, he slammed powerful cover drives or steered cheekily towards third man. Throughout his effort, he ran like the wind, making a mockery of his age, and the typically oppressive Chennai afternoon.
Bangalore's fielders were switched off right from the outset. Only two boundaries came in the first four overs, one courtesy an M Vijay paddle that went straight through short fine-leg. There were more bloopers to follow, strangely from fielders with good reputations. Cheteshwar Pujara threw needlessly from point to gift an overthrow, before Mohammad Kaif - one of the best fielders to have represented India - clanged a regulation chance from Hussey at mid-off.
That was the cue for Chennai to shift gears. Vijay blasted two fours and a six off Johan van der Wath, before Hussey slapped Tillakaratne Dilshan for consecutive boundaries to ignite Chennai's charge. Ryan Ninan dismissed Vijay a ball after being lofted for a six, but Suresh Raina stepped in seamlessly. He steered van der Wath to third man, before plundering Ninan in the 11th over for a couple of fours and a six through the straight field. He fell attempting another big hit, but by then Chennai were galloping along.
Kohli and Vettori slipped in three quiet overs, before Hussey broke loose in the 15th. Vettori's exemplary spell was ruined by his last two balls, off which Hussey looted 10 runs to reach his 50 off 42 balls. He proceeded to shred Kohli for fours through square on either side of the wicket before MS Dhoni sledgehammered Zaheer for an emphatic straight six in the 17th over. Zaheer dismissed Dhoni with his next ball, in the process cutting his side's losses by at least 15 runs. It, however, made no impact on the end result.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo