Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL, Centurion May 7, 2009

Hayden lifts spirits with brutal force

Watching Matthew Hayden bat is like looking at a character from a cricket video game. There is a surreal element to the way he bats. You think it can only happen in Xbox. He swipes, heaves, walks down the track, hits one-handed sixes and does almost whatever he wants. Imperiousness is his calling card.

Either side of the rain break the Centurion crowd lapped it up. They loved his violence, especially those watching in the bar. Hayden's batting might not have been appreciated while playing against South Africa but in the IPL he is a big hit with the locals. Collective gasps of incredulity went up with several shots; vodka shots were downed after watching the replays on the big screen. It was like being in a bar full of Tony Greig clones screaming: "Whaddaaaplayaaaa!"

Alternatively, Hayden's 89 off 58 balls, with eight fours and six sixes, was like watching a slasher movie. There was a shot off Sreesanth that captured the spirit. He heaved his heavy frame across the stumps and, as Sreesanth tried to cramp him with a short ball, he went for a pull, taking the bottom hand off the handle, allowing him to complete the arcing swing. The white ball soared through the dark sky and settled somewhere in the long-leg stands.

"He is a particularly over-rated bowler," Hayden said later, indicating he deliberately went after Sreesanth. "He loses his cool under pressure." There was a bit of needle between the two players. Asked what the chat was about, Hayden said: "It's not worth repeating."

Many of his shots were definitely worth repeating. If he was brutal against Sreesanth, he was dismissive of the spin. He walked down the track to Piyush Chawla and lunged forward to waft over wide long-on. Then there were more of his typical heaves over midwicket.

When chatting with Hayden about his batting, he uses regular phrases such as "I am in the zone most times I am out in the middle" and "there is no bowler that worries me". Arrogance and false bravado to us, perhaps, a statement of fact to him, like the sun rising in the east.

Perhaps it's his way of not allowing any self-doubt to creep in. When seeing some of the shots he plays, you can see why he thinks that way. Though he makes it seem ridiculously easy, the real secret lies in his practice.

During his international career, he was probably the batsman who practised the hardest before a game. He would hit an absurdly high number of balls in the nets. The rest of the Australians and the opposition would pack up and go but Hayden would still be hitting the balls. It's no different in the IPL.

When asked how he was enjoying the IPL he said: "Great fun to be back. Just going tuk tuk [he gestures his swipes over midwicket] and they are all connecting well." If he keeps knocking them around like he has been doing, Chennai should make it through to the semi-finals easily.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vinodh on May 10, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    "HAYDOS"!! Sheer Muscle Power combined with aggression and skills... this is the best way to Describe such a master of Stroke Making... He has a very big influence on Raina too when he bats with such a tenacity and a comfort zone to the co-batsman to free their arms at will without any focus on stabilizing or controlling the innings with caution. Thats what the presence of Haydos does to the team and their bench is sitting comfortable and enjoying his work...Bravo man!! Way to go!!

  • Kiran on May 9, 2009, 9:44 GMT

    "Haydos at his vintage best" Thats what i can say about his stint in 2009 edition of IPL. If he is playing like this then chennai would easily to make it to the finals.He have not lost his authority over the bowlers and the 3 sixes against sreesanth proved his mettle.Sreesanth is by all odds an over-rated bowler. He is pretending to be aggressive and in the name of sledging , he has abused a legendary player like Hayden.I am a keralite and when I see these kind of gestures, I feel apparently ashamed.

  • Saahil on May 9, 2009, 3:47 GMT

    Hayden and Raina have muscled Chennai to the top spot .....Way to go

  • Kalyanaraman on May 8, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    The Australian selectors made a mistake by not picking Hayden in the Australian team for the world Twenty 20. He is the highest scorer of this IPL. Good for Chennai though.

  • Kartikiran on May 8, 2009, 13:46 GMT

    "He is a particularly over-rated bowler," Hayden had the best statement of the IPL 2009. It is very true. Sreesanth is all talk & no walk. Someone take him out of IPL too and ask him to continue playing better for Kerala in Ranji and ask hime to work his way back into the team like Zaheer did.

  • Gaut on May 8, 2009, 12:57 GMT

    It seems punjab cant buy a win... not happy with kumars glove work Goel should have really had hayden stumped when he was on 28 or so.. ah well such is life

  • Thewalker on May 8, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    Hayden's comments, as you rightly said, can be mistaken for arrogance. Roger Federer once said that he can beat any player from the back court and did that with great success until the year before last. And Hayden is batting like that now but no one knows how long it will continue. Let us enjoy it while it does.

  • Farrukh on May 8, 2009, 11:08 GMT

    he is fablilous whn batting like tht, lovely to watch whn white ball gone over the fences from his wood. he shd have to enter his name in list of 100 in 20/20.

  • Hemanth on May 8, 2009, 6:24 GMT

    Awesome to watch Hayden playing with such tenacity. I have never given any comments on any web pages before but after watching Hayden's batting I couldn't resist myself in sharing the joyness I had not only yesterday butwatching him throughout the IPL2. His Six hitting ability is unbelievable. His one hand swivel which went for a six against poor Sreesanth shows his skill to hit any delivery any time any where. Truly Majestic !!

    When someone plays like that.. then you can be sure that only one team is gonna win and the result proved itself. Though Kings XI Punjab played well, they were chasing the tail of the super kings all the way.

    Yet another example of cool and calm Dhoni's captaincy to give Raina 2 overs and Yuvi had no idea what to do but hit every ball except the middle of the bat.

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