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The Rajasthan Royals have taken advantage of their tag of underdogs by beating strong teams like the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Their match in Chennai against the defending champions was the biggest test of their character. Although RR lost the game to the Chennai Super Kings, they fought till the end and took the match into the last over while defending a modest total of 147.
Ashok Menaria, who contributed with a 34-run cameo and bowled two overs for 10 runs, expressed his satisfaction with RR’s effort in a post-match interview with iplt20.com.
Are away games are still a problem for the Royals?
There is no such thing. We played in Bangalore and won there. Also, there hasn’t been a single match which we have lost convincingly. All the matches we have lost were stretched to the last over. I think we are playing better than ever.
Does forcing a batting line-up like CSK’s to take a 147-run chase to the last over give you a lot of confidence?
Definitely. We managed to stretch the game till the last over even after not having a par score against such big a team. [That] has boosted our morale.
After winning the toss, what did you think was a good total on this wicket?
We didn’t have a total on our mind. We thought we would play according to the wicket. And I think it was not a bad total, but just a couple of misfields here and there. And we couldn’t capitalize in the last few overs. How was the wicket playing – CSK chased down 205 the other day, and the last couple of matches they chased 164 and 147 [today]?
Wicket was a bit slow and ball was keeping low. It’s difficult to play on such a wicket in a T20 game. If Faf [du Plessis] wouldn’t have played so well, the match would have been ours.
Was their opening partnership the turning point?
Not the opening partnership, but their opening batsman [Faf du Plessis] took the match away from us.
“I wanted to be a fast bowler because Wasim Akram was my idol but my coach Imtiaz Hussain asked me to bowl spin instead as I didn’t have the required height and the physique for fast bowling. I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time. He told me we would see about bowling fast later, so I started to bowl spin,” said the youngster, who has been watching spin superstar Daniel Vettori closely in the IPL.
Ask him about the other twist of fate in his life and Nadeem’s face lights up. “My brother and I both liked cricket but our parents didn’t want both of us to play it because the future [in the sport] is uncertain,” he told iplt20.com.
“They wanted at least one of us to concentrate on studies. They told us that only one of us could play and that we would have to choose [which one of us got the chance]. That year , my brother Ashhad Iqbal was doing very well [in cricket] so I told my dad that I would stop playing cricket. My brother started playing and since I was doing well in studies, I decided to give up cricket,” he explained.
But the story took another turn; the left-arm spinner was selected for the Under-15 state level camp quite by chance. “At that time the state camp team was announced in the newspaper [and I was selected]. My second-term exams were over and the finals were in February-March and the Under-15 tournament used to be held in November. I told my father, ‘It is just a matter of one month. I will just go play and come back.'
“I went to [the state] Under-15 [tournament] and in three innings I took 12 wickets so I was called for Under-15 India camp; I went there and got selected. When I returned, my brother said, ‘Okay, you play and I will stop playing cricket’.”
However, it wasn’t always an easy ride for Nadeem. Having struggled through a lean patch, he has come back determined to make his mark. “Last [season] I was dropped from the Ranji Trophy squad after two matches. After that I went to play in the Under-22 [team] because I wanted a chance to prove myself. I took 15 wickets in three innings and based on that performance I came back to the one-day side and was named Man-of-the-Match in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final.
“After that performance in the final, I got picked for the Delhi Daredevils team,” he added.
The Daredevils think tank is happy with their decision. “I am not surprised [with the way he has performed]. We have always known that he has the ability. The way he has put [it all] together – grasped the ability to drift the ball, turn the ball and control the length – is crucial," said DD head coach Eric Simons about the rising star.
Nadeem himself is enjoying bowling in this format. “I think Twenty20 is a game of rhythm. You have to be very strict with your line and length. I personally feel that you have to do very well in your first over to get into the rhythm."
The left-arm spinner also feels domestic cricketers have the edge in IPL. “If you have been playing domestic cricket consistently you travel across the country for matches and you have an idea about the wickets and how they will play,” he signed off saying.