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Chennai Super Kings will be smarting from the loss against Kings XI Punjab in Abu Dhabi, after scoring 205 runs. However, one cannot overlook the sensational batting performance by their brand new pair of opening batsmen – Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum. Both, playing their first match for CSK, combined to post an opening stand of 123 runs in 76 balls, which eventually took the team past 200.
The best part of the partnership was the ease with which the two batsmen complemented each other. We, at iplt20.com, spoke to one half of the pair, Smith, right after the match. He told us that he and his partner go a long way. Smith, the former Mumbai Indian, also spoke of the drastic change at the other end of his crease – from Sachin Tendulkar to Brendon McCullum.
Here are excerpts from his interview: Not a good start for the team but you must be pleased with your debut for CSK.
It was unfortunate that we lost, but it was a good debut for me. I love the team culture here at CSK. The dressing room atmosphere is very energetic and positive. I am sure I will love playing for this team. From opening with Tendulkar to now opening with McCullum. What’s the difference?
Oh there’s a huge difference. It was obviously a privilege to play with Tendulkar and batting with Bazz is fun too. I really love what Bazz brings to the table. The good thing is that we are very similar batsmen; we both like to hit big and play attacking cricket. We spoke before the game and he told me, ‘Dwayne, if we bat together for 10 overs, the team will be in an excellent position.’ Does your game change much depending on who you open with?
I make sure it doesn’t change. There’s no point letting your game get influenced by your partner’s game because then you will not be the player the team picked you for. I like to be positive in my approach and stick to my game, irrespective of who I am batting with.
You and Brendon didn’t look like you were opening the batting together for the first time. Clicked at once?
We opened the batting for the first time, but we did play together for Sussex in England. That familiarity helped us construct this partnership today because we know each other’s strengths very well. With you, Smith, Faf, Raina, Dhoni and Bravo, there is immense firepower in CSK’s batting. Who plays the anchor if the team loses early wickets?
There is a lot of firepower there for sure. But the best thing is that most of these players are capable of dropping anchor when the team needs. I genuinely think any of us can play that role of steadying the innings if required. Do you think you are the quietest and most sober cricketer to come from West Indies? Planning to change that in Dwayne Bravo’s company?
Oh, that’s what people see of me – the quiet and sober guy. Actually, I, like any West Indian, like to have fun and enjoy myself.
When JP Duminy walked out in the middle to bat, the Delhi Daredevils were tottering at 17 for three in the fifth over. At one stage, it looked as if the Daredevils would get out cheaply and fail to register a competitive total at the end of 20 overs. However, Duminy had other plans as he worked his way to an unbeaten 67 to get his team to a total of 145 in 20 overs.
In the end, however, it wasn’t enough against a power packed batting RCB line-up that chased the total with ease. Nevertheless, the middle-order batsman was happy he could get some runs at the start of the tournament. “It is always good to get some runs. It is a new franchise and you want to perform for them. Unfortunately, we could not get a win, but we put up a good fight,” Duminy told IPLT20.com after the game.
Duminy stitched an unbeaten 110-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Ross Taylor. This stand was one of the biggest plus points for the Daredevils in the match. Both batsmen played according to a plan, which augured well for their team. “We had lost a lot of wickets up front and our aim out there was to build a partnership and not give away our wickets easily. We did just that and set a competitive total of 145. But unfortunately, there were a couple of errors on the field and other things, which did not go our way.”
Duminy also claimed that his partnership with Taylor was an enjoyable one. He said, “Ross and I have played international cricket for a number of years now and we both shared experiences and ideas in the middle. It was the first time that I was batting with him and it was really exciting and enjoyable. It was good to hear his ideas and the way he goes about his business, and obviously, we can always learn from each other.”
When asked if it was tough to bat under such testing conditions when the chips are down, Duminy replied with a smile, “I have played quite a few such innings in the past. I backed my natural instincts while playing today, and as a player, you got to read the situations. It was nothing new, to be honest, and I knew we needed to set up the game for the back end, and it worked nicely for us.”
So has he been given the role of a finisher in the side? “Not really. But today, I had to come in and consolidate a bit, try to work the ones and try to pick up the odd boundary and finish it at the end. I am pleased that I got an opportunity to put in a performance for the team, and I only hope it continues.”
Talking about finishers, his South Africa teammate AB de Villiers is considered to be one of the best in the game. And Duminy was all praise for his compatriot. “I have taken a tip or two from AB de Villiers. He is an outstanding player and has done the job many times for South Africa and for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. So you can only learn from someone like that. And it is always great to be a part of the team he is playing in. Unfortunately, we got to play against him this year, but it is always exciting.”