Michael Hussey has recalled an instance from IPL 2018, when CSK captain MS Dhoni tried to read Rashid Khan‘s variations based on the team analyst’s advice and batting coach Hussey’s suggestion, but ended up losing his wicket to the Afghanistan spinner.
“The night before the qualifying final against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he [the analyst] sent me this split-screen of Rashid Khan,” Hussey said, speaking on the Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast. “When he [Rashid] runs in to bowl, when he bowls his leg-spinner, he holds his finger wide as he’s running in, and when he bowls a wrong ‘un, [he bowls] with his fingers like this (gestures).
“And I thought – ‘Woah, this is good, but I am not sure if I should be throwing this out to the batsmen the night before this massive qualifying final’. So, I am sitting on this information, and I am going back and forth – ‘Should I, should I not, would I want it’.
“And I said to myself – If we play this game tomorrow and lose, and Rashid Khan goes really well, and I have sat on this info and I haven’t sent it out, I am not gonna forgive myself. So, I decided to send it out to all the batsmen. But I did make sure I wrote: ‘You may want to use this, you may not. It is just here for your information. If you want anything, go for it, if not…
“Some of the guys loved it. Faf [du Plessis] loves this kind of stuff – he wants to know how many slower balls Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s gonna bowl in the first six overs, he wants to know all the different grips and everything. But there are other players who probably don’t want to use it. Anyway, I sent it out to all batsmen.
“MS, you didn’t really hear a reply [from], which is generally normal. We come to the game, we’re playing it and we’re in big trouble and MS is in the middle, and while he’s in the middle, we’re still thinking there’s a chance to win this game.”
Chasing Hyderabad’s 140 at the Wankhede stadium, Chennai had stumbled to 24-3 when MS Dhoni walked in. Soon enough, Hussey’s suggestion was put through a litmus test when skipper Kane Williamson pressed Rashid Khan into the attack.
“Rashid Khan comes on to bowl, one of the very first balls he [Dhoni] faces, goes for the big cover drive – wrong ‘un, bowled through the gate. And I’m thinking ‘Uh, gosh. Okay, no worries.’ And MS walks straight off the field, and I am sitting in the dugout and he walks straight up to me and says ‘I’ll bat my own way, thanks,’ and sits back down.
“As a coach, I thought my days are over forever! But, to MS [Dhoni]’s credit, after the game, he was absolutely fantastic. He came up and spoke to me and we had a good chat. He said that the information was correct, but for him, he needed time to go away and process it and practise it.
“What he did in the game was, he thought he saw it was going to be a leg-spinner, played a shot, didn’t bother watching the bowl, and obviously he was done through the gate with the wrong ‘un.
“He said ‘If I had got time in the nets, have a look at the hand as he was running in to bowl, then still watch the ball then I would have time to build it into the routine. And it would have been very beneficial.'”