It was great to get a couple of days after our opening game to spend time with the players and practice with them. The opening ceremony had left me with very little time to meet my team before our opening game at Mohali.
However, over the last two days, I have got to speak to all the players, and it’s heartening to see the enthusiasm and the focus in the team. We are gelling well and while we are a relatively cool and calm lot, there is a healthy team spirit. We might not be as demonstrative as the Daredevils or the Knight Riders on the field, but we do have a great time together, and guys from different teams are really hitting it off well.
Victory always buoys a team and that is true for us as well. Michael Hussey was magnificent in our opening game, and while he did not score as many as Brendon McCullum, he was unstoppable against Kings XI Punjab.
Their bowlers did not have a plan B and it was quite simply a case of the batsman out-thinking the bowlers. Watching Michael on Saturday, I can only thank my stars that he did not play like that in the one-dayers Down Under! It was a remarkable innings, and one that took us to a very strong total.
We have to keep that level of performance going in Chennai tomorrow, when we take on the Mumbai Indians.
I don’t think I have ever played against Sachin Tendulkar and it will be an unusual feeling for me and, I guess, the Chennai spectators who have cheered him on to many milestones at the Chepauk Stadium.
You can’t plan too much against a player of his calibre, and hopefully we will bowl well against him.
As we can only play four international players per game, a player of Stephen Fleming’s stature is having to sit out a couple of games.
However, having been New Zealand’s captain for so many years, he is a great asset to the team’s think tank. He is happy to contribute to strategy during team meetings and is a vital member of the side.
Having players from so many countries gives us all an opportunity to share knowledge and learn about their way of approaching the game.
The Super Kings will be losing the likes of Matthew Hayden, Hussey and Jacob Oram in May, and the baton will be passed on Fleming and Albie Morkel, among others.
I have been practising my keeping to Muralitharan these past couple of days, and hopefully, with a few more sessions, I will be better equipped to anticipate his doosra.
Keeping to a bowler like him is always tougher under lights, and I realised that I found it easier to pick while batting against him than when keeping to him.