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Hayden heroics shining light of IPL

13/05/2009 10:58:00 AM
As the 2009 Indian Premier League enters the final straight in South Africa there can be no doubt that Matthew Hayden has been the Twenty20 extravaganza's most effective player.

In a format that urges batsmen to take risks at a frenetic rate in the relentless pursuit of glory, consistency over a period of time seems an unachievable dream.

And yet it's something the Chennai Super Kings opener has accomplished in amassing an extraordinary 426 runs from nine matches, averaging 47.33 at a strike rate of 151 runs per 100 balls.

It's a record that stands Hayden head and shoulders above all other batsmen in the 2009 IPL, securing virtually since day one the orange cap which signifies the tournament's top run-scorer.

But what's even more staggering than the fact that he has made over 100 runs more than his closest competitor for the cap is that he has thrashed 30 runs or more in all but one of his nine innings.

It's been a phenomenal effort from a player who was effectively forced into international retirement in January by a poor run of form that started in India last year.

After calling time on a magnificent career that saw him finish 10th in the ICC rankings for Test batsmen, Hayden did not hit a cricket ball for almost three months.

Just one week before the second season of the IPL began, he finally returned to the nets for some pre-tournament preparation.

However, the brutal left-hander insists the peace of mind brought about by his retirement from the international game has done him wonders, and led to his remarkable success.

"The only reason that I'm playing the way I am now is because I have retired. I have been able to let go of the fact that I don't want to play international cricket," he told cricinfo.com this week.

"I know that I've only got a very short time playing cricket in this particular period, so I've got all my mind, skills and fitness towards the IPL.

"This is not the case with most other international players, who know they will leave this tournament and head straight to the Twenty20 World Cup, and then another international series, then the domestic cricket next summer - it is just never-ending cricket."

The Super Kings are near certainties for the semi-finals, having recovered from a slow start to record five wins on the trot, with Hayden fronting that charge.

Bought for a bargain 375,000 dollars in the IPL auction, the 37-year-old possesses the ability to pace his innings to suit the match situation, and has the experience to read conditions and adapt.

As someone who believes attaining peak mental condition is equally important to physical wellbeing, Hayden achieves the balance by going surfing and has taken full advantage of South Africa's seas.

"During this tournament I've spent more time on the ocean than I have on a cricket field," he confessed.

"It does give me an edge, because in a tournament which is played over half a day and when you play every other day, there is a lot of time spent on thinking cricket. You need to have a balance in life."

AFP

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Matthew Hayden of the Chennai Super Kings plays a shot during the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament against the Kings Punjab in Centurion. PHOTO: Reuters
Matthew Hayden of the Chennai Super Kings plays a shot during the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament against the Kings Punjab in Centurion. PHOTO: Reuters

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