Hyderabad v Chennai, IPL 2013, Hyderabad May 8, 2013

With Hussey, maiden doesn't mean all over

The pressure of dots balls can be enormous in Twenty20 cricket. Hussey knows he can always fall back on three foundations of his Twenty20 batting: his running, the cover-drive and the shovel pull

It could be a complete coincidence, or perhaps not, but two of the best batsmen in Twenty20 cricket have faced the most maidens in the IPL. Chris Gayle has gone through four run-less overs. When Michael Hussey was done blocking out Dale Steyn in the first over of this match, he had faced his third maiden of the IPL.

In a format that a couple of dot balls often result in stupid dismissals, here are batsmen playing out 5% of a team's resources without scoring a run. That should put teams under immense pressure, right? Wrong. Of the seven times Hussey and Gayle have played out a maiden, their side has lost on only one occasion. Twice Gayle has scored a century after facing a maiden.

Gayle has been well documented. He just bides his time, picks his bowlers, and then goes boom. Because he knows he can, because he knows fielders and boundaries don't mean anything to him once he starts hitting.

What of Hussey then? On the surface it might sound surprising that Hussey comes back from these slow starts often, but he is possibly the likelier of the two to do so. The number of times his team, Chennai Super Kings, have gone from around 60 in 10 overs to 160 in 20 suggests he has done so more consistently.

It is perhaps logical that Hussey should do it as often as Gayle, if not more. He is a more complete batsman. Until he surprised everyone by suddenly giving up international cricket, he was one of the few batsmen in the world who was equally good at all three formats. However, whether it is Gayle or Hussey, the acceleration from slow starts is easier said than done.

The pressure of dots balls can be enormous in Twenty20 cricket. You begin to owe your team that many balls as soon as you start playing those dots. If you fall mid-acceleration, for, say, 20 off 25, you end up doing your team a disservice. You leave yourself no other option but to play about 40 balls and make up for those starts. You have to be extremely sure of your game to be doing that often.

Not many know their own game better than Hussey does. He knows he can always fall back on three foundations of his Twenty20 batting: his running, the cover-drive that he plays as well as anyone, and the shovel pull that he hardly ever fails at.

It is not as if he deliberately plays out deliveries at the top. He minimises the risks while the pitch is a stranger. While most openers try to get the hitting out of the way, Hussey waits, as he did today. This was a ground where 130 had been the season's highest score. Hussey was out there with an opening partner who has not been through the best of seasons. Super Kings were against bowlers who have kept their side in the competition without much help at all from their batsmen. And the leader of that pack, Steyn, was about to bowl outswingers at mid-140kmph and register the second-best IPL figures for a bowler in a score of 200 or more.

Four defensive shots covering the swing, one leave outside off, and one hit on the inside half of the bat. All of a sudden it's 19 overs v 20. Only two runs would come off the next Steyn over. Almost inconspicuously, though, Hussey followed the pattern: change gears, turn a single into a two here, nudge a four there, and while you are looking at Vijay's three sixes off Ishant Sharma Hussey has quietly reached 14 from 11.

Vijay fell, but Hussey kept on doing what he does: run hard, drive supremely, go deep in the crease and bend his knees to manufacture his own length and play the shovel pull. Along the way he reclaimed the Orange Cap. By the time he fell, having scored at a strike-rate of 160, you had even forgotten the game had begun with a maiden. Quite possibly because Hussey had played out that maiden.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kanagarajan on May 10, 2013, 9:46 GMT

    Hussey is truely Mr.Cricket.. the way he is on-field and off-field and building the innings at top.. and the more conisistent he brings .. ll leave the down the order to play freely... Hats off Hussey.. keep doing the good work.. we loves to c u more years on the field.. all the best...

  • rakesh on May 10, 2013, 6:15 GMT

    Hussay is indeed the first pillar of CSK's success just like Hyden was in previous IPLs.. Now chennai can also play faf given that they have already qualified.. faf,Hussay,Raina,Badri,dhoni,Bravo,Jadeja,Morkel,Aswin,Mohit should be there first Ten..with eleventh spot going to any Indian fast bowler.. CSK has bought a lot of Domestic fast bowlers this season.. This team will further increase their batting strengh at the top without depleting their bowling attack..

  • vas on May 10, 2013, 6:00 GMT

    Hussey should keep playing for big bash and other Australian domestic cricket to keep match fit so that he can play for CSK for another 3-4 years.

  • Dummy4 on May 10, 2013, 2:01 GMT

    Unique achievement for CSK - CSK table toppers on the Points Table & Fair Play Award along Hussey with the Orange cap and Bravo purple at any one given time. Well deserved too.

  • Siva on May 10, 2013, 1:25 GMT

    Culturally CSK is very different. hussey fits in very well in this. CSK's strength is to have non flashy but high performers. You hardly see their management talking much; the owners are also so low key.

  • andre on May 9, 2013, 21:55 GMT

    Two great batsmen for sure

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    all I can say is that if a strokemaker or hard hitter whatever the correct word plays sensible initially then they can score quick runs later in the innings if the pitch does not get slower. Players like Gayle, Sehwag, Brandon Mc Cullum, etc feel the pace of pitch and then go for big shots then they will do miracles. Hussey is player who will initially take singles and then started hitting big shots. Sometimes he hits big one from starting also. Whatever Sunrisers Hyderabad depends too much on few individuals and if they fail then it is over. In bowling Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma and Amit Mishra. All these bowlers were hit all round the park by Raina. Anyhow have to see how SRH will do in coming matches. CSK is already qualified for play offs. So this win might not have made much difference to them.

  • Mick on May 9, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    It impresses me when players play for the team and try hard to maintain that high run rate. Too many matches were lost when Kallis or even Tendulkar made a big score, because they refuse to step up the pace for the good of team. That meant that while they were magnificent test players, they were greatly over rated at T20. Gayle and Hussey are the ones who deserve the plaudits as score with great pace for the team or get out trying to.

  • a on May 9, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Fitting tribute to a perfect gentleman. CSK's senior leadership of Fleming, MSD, and Hussey reflect the spirit and culture of the team and conduct themselves with such poise and dignity. Huss, lets go win IPL6. Cheers.

  • Dummy4 on May 9, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    A lot of CSK's success can be attributed to the unassuming team and calm nature of all players in the team. Yes, they do have Raina and jadeja who get a bit excited, but I guess as a team, CSK enjoys the game more than any other team!!!