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It was David Warner all the way in Ranchi on Thursday. But one look at the Chennai Super Kings batting card and you would see two notable contributions – one from CSK captain MS Dhoni and the other one from middle-order batsman David Hussey, who brought up his first IPL half-century this season in only his second outing in yellow. Hussey laboured his way to a 29-ball 25 in his first game, but looked in good touch in his second.
He stitched an unbeaten 108-run stand with his captain for the fourth wicket to guide the Super Kings to a score of 185 in their 20 overs. He was disappointed that his team did not end up on the winning side, but like everyone else, applauded David Warner for his match-winning contribution for the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Excerpts from his interview:
You got the runs on the board, but it was David Warner’s night, wasn’t it?
David Warner played nicely, didn’t he? He struck the ball beautifully. I thought we had a winnable score on the board and it took a special innings from David to win the game for their team.
As a fielding side, what do you do when David Warner is on song?
That’s a tough one. Just try and get him off strike, maybe? Tonight was a perfect example of how good a player he is. He hit the ball sweetly from ball-one. The plan would be to try and close him up a bit because he is so good at freeing his arms; he picks deliveries at will and you would want to try and get him off strike as much possible. He is a very fine player and it was a very fine knock.
Is this the best you have watched Warner bat so far in the IPL?
I haven’t really watched him play that much, but I guess it is probably one of the better knocks I have seen him play this IPL. He just played out of his skin tonight.
On a personal note, are you happy to get your first half-century this season?
It is a good feeling, but after the loss, it is probably a bittersweet feeling. It is nice to contribute to the team, but it is disappointing that we lost. There are a lot of positives to take from that as well. We have another game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and we have got to focus on that. We need to pull our socks a little bit and hopefully we can finish among the top two.
After your first game, what did you do differently today with regards to your batting?
I worked on rotating the strike early as Dhoni keeps telling me to take it as long and far as you can go and to catch up at the backend of the innings. Probably it was a different mindset tonight during my batting.
You shared an unbeaten century stand with MS Dhoni; how did he plan the innings, especially after he had a rather silent start?
MS Dhoni just came out and played they way he can play and he caught up at the backend of the innings, in the last over by Dale Steyn, which put us in a good position. It is nice to bat with someone who is so cool and calm under all this pressure.
Do you feel MS Dhoni is one of the best finishers of the game?
Yes, he is and I am glad he is in our team. To put us into a decent position like that and to finish off the last over the way he did against one of the better fast bowlers around is commendable. It was brilliant hitting.
On Thursday night, David Warner took center stage at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi. Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni had given the crowd enough reasons to cheer with his unbeaten 41-ball 57, but his knock was completely overshadowed as Warner made light work of the 186-run target by taking the attack to the CSK bowlers.
Both pacers and spinners were treated with equal disdain as Warner looked in ominous touch. At the other end was Shikhar Dhawan, who was playing the role of an anchor to perfection and was more than happy to support his teammate. Warner looked poised for triple digits, but fell agonisingly short by 10 runs.
Dhawan stayed till the end to finish things off in his side’s favour and was all praise for Warner after the match. He wished that his partner had got a century and considered himself fortunate to have watched such a special innings from the other end. Excerpts from his exclusive interview:
It definitely looks like David Warner has been missing that opening slot; it truly belongs to him.
I would say that he has been batting well in the middle order as well. Aaron Finch and myself were successful in getting the team off to good starts, but were not able to convert them into big ones. It was the management’s decision to move Warner at the top, and it definitely seems to be working. It is great that we are getting the team to big starts, and more importantly, winning games.
What was your role when David Warner was going berserk at one end?
I just went in and looked to bat normally. I was fortunate to see David Warner batting at the other end when he started to launch from the very first over. I just played an anchor role since I knew he was hitting the ball well. I looked to rotate the strike as much as possible and took my time to get my eye in.
Did you turn into a spectator when you were watching David Warner bat?
It was great to watch him play the way he did. I wanted to applaud every shot he played because he was batting magnificently. He was clearing the boundary at will and it was quite a sight from the other end.
Do you think Warner is batting more freely after he has started opening for SRH?
He has been in great touch this season. He is someone who has always batted freely, irrespective of his batting position. Tonight, he was just attacking every bowler who came to bowl to him. He even danced down the track to hit the spinners above their heads, which is not an easy thing to do. It was just a beautiful batting performance.
That century for him was well and truly on the cards, wasn’t it?
I would have loved to see Warner get a hundred because he deserved it. It was unfortunate the manner in which he got out. If not for that, the three figure mark was definitely there for the taking.
You said that you played anchor when Warner was batting. How did you shift gears after his dismissal?
After Warner’s dismissal, I knew that I had to continue from where he had left. I had to continue the run-chase positively and help the team cross the line. I planned my innings and chose the bowlers to go after since we needed some big overs to finish off the game.
The game went on till the last over. Were you a bit tense in the end?
We needed less than a run-a-ball in the final two overs and we were confident that we would finish it off from there. But we knew we could not take things casually because as they say, it’s not over till it’s over. We are glad that we came up winning at the end of it.
On a personal note, you find yourself in a good space now?
It is a good feeling to convert the starts into match-winning knocks and I am extremely happy with the way I am batting now.