Following his side’s win over Gujarat Titans (GT) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey lauded newly-appointed skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad, saying that he is a very “smart, cricket-savy” guy who is doing a great job, especially in rotating the bowlers and placing fields.

The fortress at Chepauk stood untouched as the Chennai Super Kings registered a comprehensive 63-run win over the Gujarat Titans on Monday in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024.

Speaking after the match, Hussey was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo, “I think he (Ruturaj) been fantastic. He is very well prepared. Him, Flem (head coach Stephen Fleming), MSD – they get together and talk tactics before the game. But I think the way Rutu changes the bowlers around… the fields are very good. He seems very clear. The messaging to the bowlers is very clear as well.”

“So I think he is taking to the job brilliantly at the moment; I know he has some good support around him but he is a very smart guy and a very cricket-savvy guy, you know; he understands the game well. He has got a good team to work with as well, which helps as well, but I think he has been fantastic so far,” Hussey concluded his point.

The former Australian batter was also very appreciative of all-rounder Rachin Ravindra, the Kiwi star who has provided explosive starts to his team with knocks of 37 in 15 balls and 46 in 20 balls, respectively so far. Hussey said that Rachin is trying to soak up as much knowledge as he can and the crowd gives him more energy.

“He is just trying to soak up as much knowledge as he possibly can. I think he really feeds off the crowd a bit as well. And yeah, once you have got a couple of good shots away earlier, I think his confidence grew and he believed that ‘I can perform on this stage and grow from there.’ I think he has just gone out there with a clear mind and a nice positive attitude and got off to a good start. There is not a lot to work on with these level of world-class players,” said Hussey.

One of the biggest surprises of the match was a cameo by 20-year-old Sameer Rizwi, in which he scored 14 in six balls with two sixes. A key highlight was him smoking T20 superstar Rashid Khan for a massive six on the very first ball of his IPL career and launching another big hit on his fourth ball. Hussey said that Rizwi has natural hitting ability, especially against spinners.

“Well, he has got a lot of natural ability and natural hitting ability. We have seen it at practice, you know, especially against the spinners. I mean, he can hit a long way and he can hit the ball very cleanly,” said the coach.

“But it is still a big ask for a young player to come in for his first IPL game against arguably the best T20 bowler of all time, Rashid Khan and hit the first ball that you face for six. I mean, that is just crazy, is not it? So we are very excited for him,” he added. Hussey said that Rizwi was excited to play in front of the packed Chepauk crowd and it was his youth and fearlessness that helped him play with freedom. The batting coach lauded the think-thank for promoting the up-and-coming batter ahead of MS Dhoni. “He was excited to play, especially here at Chepauk, with such a great crowd. And I think that is the great thing about youth, they have no fear so they can come out and just play with that complete freedom, right? It was also a bit of a masterstroke from the think tank as well,” said the former Aussie great.

“Because I think we were all expecting MSD to come out and play those last sort of a few balls. But they realised that he [Rizvi] has got some natural power against spin and that is why they wanted to send the youngster out. And, you know, he delivered two sixes at the end, which was great for his confidence,” concluded Hussey. Lastly, Hussey said that it has been a directive from Fleming to “keep pushing the game forward”.

“With the Impact Player rule coming in, we have basically got an extra batsman and an extra bowler throughout the game. So the batting order keeps lengthening. I think we have MSD at number eight. Which is crazy, you know, and MSD is batting really well at the moment as well,” said Hussey.

“So, because we have got so much depth in our resources there, it means the players up the order [are not] in in two minds, take the positive route and they will certainly have the backing from the coaches and the captain that we would prefer you to keep trying to push the game forward. If you get out while doing so, that is fine. You will never be criticised for that. Flem’s talk is about playing fast. We want to keep playing fast,” concluded Hussey.

Coming into the match, GT put CSK to bat first. Fiery knocks from Rachin Ravindra (46 in 20 balls, with six fours and three sixes), skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad (46 in 36 balls, with five fours and a six) and Dube (51 in 23 balls, with two fours and five sixes) took CSK to 206/6 in 20 overs.

Rashid Khan (2/49) and Spencer Johnson (1/35) were among the picks of the bowlers for GT. In the run-chase, GT kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Sai Sudharsan (37 in 31 balls, with three fours), Wriddhiman Saha (21 in 17 balls, with four boundaries) and David Miller (21 in 16 balls, with three fours) tried to put up a fight, but it was just not enough. GT were restricted to 143/8 and lost by 63 runs.

Tushar Deshpande (2/21), Deepak Chahar (2/28) and Mustafizur Rahman (2/30) were the top bowlers for CSK.Dube took home the ‘Player of the Match’ award.


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