CHENNAI: Faf du Plessis’ contribution in the IPL-XI was nothing noteworthy till the Qualifier 1. He missed out on a few games at the start with a fractured finger and even when he got a chance his form had been patchy, scoring only 85 runs in four matches at an average of 21.25.
Going by his form, it was a surprise to see Faf getting selected for CSK’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday. In fact, had Sam Billings not picked up a hip injury, Faf might not have got the chance. But CSK, needing an experienced batsman to counter the disciplined Sunrisers Hyderabad attack on a bowler-friendly Wankhede pitch, brought in the South African captain and the veteran justified his selection with a match-winning effort.
Faf batted patiently, took minimum risks in the middle overs and when the wickets were falling around him, he kept one end locked up. It was this calmness which made Faf a dangerous batsman for the Yellow brigade from the time he joined them in 2011. Looking ahead at the final on Sunday, Faf will once again have to display the patient and risk-free approach which stood him in good stead over the years.
“Faf’s innings is where experience counts. It’s not easy to not play a lot of games, but I always say you need to train your mind as well. That’s where the experience comes in. You visualise what your role is, how you can contribute, and Faf has been brilliant,” Dhoni had said after the match.
While Faf’s experience might count a lot on Sunday, his ability to deliver on big occasions will also be key. That Ambati Rayudu clicked as an opener for CSK also never made his case easy. But in a batting line-up which has a lot of dashers, Faf’s utility to hold the innings together will be crucial when the chips are down. Faf had earlier hinted that Rayudu’s ability to come in and score runs quickly make him an ideal No. 4 batsman in the CSK line-up. “You can put Rayudu at any position from No.1 to No. 11. He will score runs. But the ability to come in at 4 and score runs quickly is something which makes him unique. So if you ask me, I would say Rayudu coming at No. 4 slot is the best for the team. Watson and I can go on opening the innings,” he had said.