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When the Rajasthan Royals bid for Owais Shah at the 2012 IPL Players Auction, they didn’t have to compete with too many franchises to get him. Now, almost two weeks into the tournament, not many teams would mind having him.
One can be forgiven in thinking that this is Shah’s first stint in the IPL. But the fact is, he has been here before, as part of the Delhi Daredevils, the Kolkata Knight Riders and the now-defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala. His previous teams failed to use his potential to the fullest. The Royals, however, have put ample faith in him and they’re reaping the rewards of the same.
Shah has been a revelation so far, playing some outstanding match-winning cameos for his franchise. He has finished the game for them as well as delivered batting up the order. His biggest contribution so far, came in form of a 26-ball knock of 60 runs, which downed the formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore in their own backyard.
After playing a significant part in RR’s morale boosting 59-run win over RCB, Shah took time out to speak to iplt20.com. Were you happy to bat up the order?
Yeah, I feel I am in reasonable form, so it was nice to get up the order. We didn’t lose a wicket till halfway, so the captain decided to promote me and Brad Hodge up the order, and we did reasonably well with young Rahane timing the ball well. I was trying to play a supporting role and then eventually got into my game. Which role do you prefer – finishing the game or helping the team build the innings?
I think, bit of both really. I like to think of myself to be a player who can adapt to different situations. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to have batted at No.3 a lot back home in England and also bat at the end for some of the teams I’ve played for. I like to play both roles, which is a string to my bow, and hopefully, it helps me in getting selected in the eleven. I don’t want to pigeonhole myself as one type of batsman.
Bowlers tend to get complacent when they have a huge target to defend. Was there specific talk in the change room after the first innings to guard against that?
Yes. I personally thought that we had a very good score, but not one that made us unbeatable. I thought the batting conditions were very good and I stressed that point to Rahul [Dravid] and the bowlers. I reminded them that we’ve got to change the pace and be very clever, otherwise we could easily lose the game. We definitely spoke a lot about particular plans and how we’re going to bowl, and it worked in our favour today. What’s the thing you like the most about Rahane’s batting, and tell us about his knock against RCB?
I love the calmness he bats with and the wonderful timing he has. You see a lot of talent in India with people like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina, and Rahane is definitely in that league. Rahane has got a lot of time when he plays and he is very good on both front and back foot. I think he has got a very bright future ahead of him.
You seem to be in a good form this season. Is the role of being the senior player getting the most out of you?
This is probably the first time I have played a lot of T20 cricket in the IPL. I have played two or three games here and there. Over the four years I have been involved in the IPL, I have been generally carrying drinks. I am lucky enough to get a run in the team and show people what I can do. I feel relatively inexperienced in the IPL; but on the other side of it, I have played a fair bit of T20 cricket in my career. I try and draw on my experience when I bat. I try and get my basics right, like build on partnerships and play straight early on and that seems to work for me. How was it giving Chris Gayle a taste of his own medicine?
I am not too sure about that. Chris probably was called up on to bowl an over in quite tough circumstances. Some days things work for you and some days they don’t, and unfortunately, it didn’t work for Chris today.
Was there a clear plan to see off Daniel Vettori, Muthiah Muralitharan and Zaheer Khan, and to go after the other bowlers?
It was more a case of getting ourselves in. We don’t worry much about the opposition, and it’s more about what RR are capable of doing. We back our strength, and go from there. What’s the best thing about Rahul Dravid’s captaincy?
His calmness and he is best under pressure and probably the best cricketer I have ever played with.
Kolkata Knight Riders spinner says team has no option but to move on
By Akshay Manwani
Kolkata 15 April 2012
Having lost their latest match to Kings XI Punjab in front of their home fans from a winning position, the mood in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp was rather despondent. Needing 65 from the last 10 overs with eight wickets in hand, the KKR batsmen stumbled and managed only 132 while chasing 135 for victory. It was the team’s third loss in five outings, and their second at home.
Shakib Al Hasan, who won the Man-of-the-Match honours for his all-round performance two nights ago against the Rajasthan Royals, spoke of the disappointment in the KKR camp following the defeat in an exclusive interview with iplt20.com. What’s the feeling like after today’s loss?
It’s always disappointing when you lose a game, but it feels even more disappointing when you lose such a close game. We feel that we should have won that game. We made so many mistakes and weren’t smart enough to do the right things. We needed only 65 runs in the last 10 overs with 8 wickets in hand, and nine out 10 times, you would think the batting team will win. That didn’t happen. It is disappointing, but you have to move on. There are so many games to be played, and hopefully, we won’t make those mistakes we made tonight.
According to you, what was the turning point in the match?
Our middle-order batsmen didn’t apply themselves well. At one stage, we became a bit too cautious about losing wickets. That’s one area we can certainly improve because on these kinds of wickets, it is difficult to pick up the momentum. It is not a wicket where you can play your shots. You have to be careful, but positive.
Is Yusuf Pathan’s form a matter of concern for KKR?
It is still early in the tournament although five games have been played. When a big player does not perform, there are some issues. Hopefully, he will get his form back soon, and if he gets his form back, we know how destructive he can be, how many matches he can win for us. Hopefully, he will get back in form and contribute for KKR. One positive out of this game was Debabrata Das’s batting. What do you have to say about him?
He is a good young cricketer. He showed a couple of games back that he can play his shots and that he is an intelligent cricketer. The way he batted, I thought he would have won the game for us, but that didn’t happen. In the end it was a very good performance by him.
You have two away games now – in Mohali and Cuttack. Is it difficult to adjust to different conditions so quickly?
It is always difficult to play away from home, but that is how this game works. If we are to go a long [way] in this tournament, we need to win those two games. They are very crucial games for us. I feel we will be up for it and will put up our best performance.