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The quality most needed in a finisher is the hunger to fight. No wonder Albie Morkel has taken to the role so beautifully. The South African has won matches for the Chennai Super Kings from hopeless situations, thus inspiring them to fight their way into the playoffs. It wasn’t the smoothest of rides for the defending champions as they stumbled, got up and eventually took support of the other teams to book a place in the final four.
Morkel, who has been one of the more consistent performers for CSK rubbishes claims of the luck factor having played a role in taking CSK this far. The proud Protea prefers to look at the positives and reflects on the team’s good performances, before they take on the Mumbai Indians on May 23, instead of discounting the hard work by crediting it all to luck.
Here are the excerpts of the all-rounder’s chat with iplt20.com:
Do you consider yourselves fortunate to have made it to the playoffs?
Everyone has been asking that question to us since last week. You can see it in that way, but from our point of view, every team played 16 matches in the league phase and we went through on a higher net run-rate, which means we played better than the teams below us throughout the league phase. That’s how we, as a team, see it and that’s how we’re going to approach the playoffs. How tough is it depending on the other teams?
It’s tough. We haven’t played consistent cricket this time, but at least we gave ourselves a chance of qualifying into the top four even though we waited for other results. I don’t think it’s a negative thing. You can’t always be on the top of the world; sometimes, you have to scrap and slip in through the back door.
CSK have lost both their games to MI. Does that mean anything at this stage?
It should mean something. They’re a very strong side and have played fantastic cricket throughout the tournament. The first time they absolutely outplayed us in Chennai and the second one went up and down throughout. We really should’ve won it in the end. I’m sure they’ll take momentum out of that, but then the semi-final [eliminator] has its own different pressure. It’s a knockout game and anything can happen on the day.
The Bengaluru track is very different from the one you’re used to in Chennai. Your thoughts.
You always pretty much get a good T20 track here, which produces high-scoring games. It’s not a wicket on which you need time to get used to. It’s a quicker wicket, similar to what he have back home in South Africa. It encourages the big shot players. Both teams have got some very good strikers of the ball. It’s very difficult to bowl at venues like this. It’s good to have big games on such venues. You get a high-scoring contest, which entertains the crowd and is thrilling for the players as well. Would you want to bat higher up the order on such a wicket?
It’s not only me, everyone who bats lower down the order wants to come up. But my role in this team is to finish games and that’s what I have to be happy with. It’s a role that gets really difficult at some venues where the wicket is slow and turning. It’s very difficult to hit from ball one on such tracks. On a ground like this, the role gets a bit easier. You can back yourself as you know there’s going to be pace on the ball and the boundaries are going to be short. Does the team have a plan for Lasith Malinga?
Not yet. He’s a world-class bowler and there’s no point planning for him. He’s got the slower ball, the yorker, the bouncer and is pretty good in his areas. Hopefully, he has an off day. If that happens, we have a very good chance against him.
CSK opener says his team will focus on not losing too many early wickets against MI
By Akshay Manwani
Bengaluru 22 May 2012
The Chennai Super Kings get set to clash with the Mumbai Indians at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, in the eliminator phase of the playoffs. MI hold the edge against CSK going into this crucial clash, having beaten the defending champions in both their matches in the league stage.
Michael Hussey, opening batsman of the Chennai Super Kings, spoke exclusively to iplt20.com ahead of this all-important game.
CSK have stumbled their way into the playoffs this time. What has been different from your previous two championship-winning seasons?
I don’t necessarily agree. It’s just the way it’s panned out this time. We’ve stumbled through a number of times to get into the semi-finals. I remember when [MS] Dhoni hit two sixes against [Kings XI] Punjab, a couple of years ago, that was the difference in finishing fourth and in finishing sixth or seventh. You can look at it as a lucky way, because other teams were defeated in the last few games. But we were able to get enough points in all of our matches leading up to the finals [playoffs]. Has the team discussed its strategy for the game against MI tomorrow?
No, not yet. We have a training session this afternoon, so I’m sure we’ll go through our strategies then. But we have played against Mumbai [Indians], obviously, on quite a few occasions over the years. We know what some of their strengths and weaknesses are, and we have to try and exploit the weaknesses as best as we can.
MI have a very strong batting unit and a good pace attack. Could spin be an area where you could exploit them particularly, since we’ve seen Harbhajan Singh not performing up to his own high standards?
Well, I don’t want to give away anything, so I won’t be giving away too many secrets. But they’ve obviously got some very good players. And you talk about Harabhajan, but he is a class player and class players always come to the top when the big matches are on. So, I’d expect Harbhajan to be at his best during the final series, and hopefully, we can get on top of him in this eliminator. But he is a high-class performer and he’s done that over a long period of time. So, I’d expect high-class performers to perform on the big stage. Could the Bangalore wicket, which has typically thrown up high scoring contests and which does not favour much spin, work to your disadvantage?
Not necessarily. Our strength has been in our batting as well. I think we’ve got a very good batting team that can adapt to any conditions. I think the new ball will be crucial. Sometimes here in Bengaluru, it can move around a little bit with the brand new ball, but then you can really catch up with the runs later on. I think that’s got to be the focus of the team, to see out the new ball without losing too many wickets at the top. Then, I think, you can really accelerate and can score very, very quickly in the latter part of the 20 overs. What about your own form? You just came in from the West Indies to the IPL a few weeks ago. Since then you have had to adapt to different conditions wherever CSK have played. It must be difficult.
It’s been fun. I struggled a little bit at the start coming into Indian conditions. I was struggling for timing a bit. But the more time you get in Indian conditions, and the more you get back into T20 mode, the easier it gets. So, I don’t feel there are any excuses on that side now. I’ve obviously been in Indian conditions for quite a period of time now. I’ve played at Bengaluru quite a few times. I know the conditions here quite well. It would be nice to get in and get a start, and then, hopefully, go on and get a really big score.
A hypothetical question: We see you batting in the middle order in Tests and ODIs. Wouldn’t you like to do the same even in Twenty20 cricket?
No, not necessarily. I think the thing about an IPL team is that you’ve got to find the right balance of your team. Particularly when you can play only four overseas players, it’s really important what the best balance of your team is. I’m happy to bat anywhere, to be honest. I love opening that batting, but if it suited the team better for me to bat in the middle order, then I’d be more than happy to do that as well.
Finishing in the top four also means that you will now play in the 2012 Champions League Twenty 20. How is CLT20 different from the IPL?
Well, they are very different. You probably don’t know a lot of the players from the foreign teams as well. And there are some very, very strong domestic competitions around the world as well. Whether it’s [CLT20] tougher or not I don’t know. I think the IPL is a pretty strong competition with some world-class players in every team. But certainly, the CLT20 competitions that we have played have been tough competitions as well.