Kings XI Punjab's full-time captain, Adam Gilchrist, has praised stand-in captain David Hussey for inspiring the team to three away wins in their last five matches. Hussey took over from Gilchrist after he sustained a hamstring injury against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 18.
Under Hussey, Kings XI have beaten Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore in away matches, and moved from seventh to fourth on the points table. Gilchrist said that he was impressed with Hussey's captaincy during their four-wicket win against Royal Challengers on Wednesday.
"Regardless of the little mix-ups at the end [three Kings XI batsmen were run out], the captaincy today was amazing. To manage his way through our bowling innings [without Ryan Harris who went off injured] was a terrific effort," Gilchrist said. "You could feel the momentum just turn, and getting Chris [Gayle] out helped. To manage the team through that period was terrific leadership and then to come out and play the way he did [scoring 45] was again strong leadership."
On Wednesday, Kings XI's bowlers did well to restrict Royal Challengers, who at one stage looked good to set a formidable target, to 158. Azhar Mahmood's three-wicket spell and two tight overs by Hussey curbed the run rate. "Azhar has all-round capabilities," Hussey said. "He has shown what he can do with the bat and ball. What people don't see is that behind the scenes he teaches some young Indian bowlers how to bowl and how to play in different situations."
Hussey said that he was forced to bowl against Royal Challengers, after Ryan Harris sustained a calf injury. "The reason why I haven't bowled much is because our bowlers have been fantastic in the tournament, led by Praveen Kumar and our spinners Bhargav [Bhatt] and [Piyush] Chawla, who is one of the best spinners in India," he said. "Ryan Harris was unfortunate as he got hit with the ball. I had to find two or three overs, so Abhishek Nayar and I bowled."
Kings XI chased down 159, amid some late panic, with Hussey, Mahmood and Nayar being run-out. "Our game got tight tonight, we just wanted to close the game out as quickly as possible," Hussey said. "I don't think we should focus on the run-outs, but on the [previous] 12 or 13 overs of our batting. I thought Mandeep Singh and Nitin [Saini] played well and set the tone for our team. We came here for two points and that's what we got."
Hussey also said that he hopes his side continues winning and reaches the next round. "I've played a lot of Twenty20 cricket, not only here but also in Australia and have learnt from some great players. I played at Kolkata under Sourav Ganguly [in 2008], and under Adam last year, so I'm enjoying my time here," he said. "I have not mastered the Twenty20 format but I'm really enjoying the IPL. We are playing some good cricket and we hope we can make the semi-finals and shock a few teams."