A breakdown of the questions you voted on will appear here.
Pulse connects you to the
Get closer to the this season by using Pulse while you watch the LIVE matches. Pulse asks you a range of questions relevant to the LIVE action as it unfolds. Your votes will be featured in the telecast in real-time and debated by the commentators, players and stars. If you've got a great question of your own, we'd love to hear it.
Kolkata Knight Riders batsman says Gambhir is doing great as captain and batsman
By Akshay Manwani
Kolkata 29 April 2012
Brendon McCullum had the best view in the house as Gautam Gambhir unleashed himself on the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling attack in an innings (91 off 53) that set up a 47-run for the Kolkata Knight Riders. McCullum posted his best score of IPL 2012 with a 37-ball 43. In the process, he shared a 95-run opening stand with Gambhir, which was exactly half the innings score eventually posted by KKR.
Having witnessed Gambhir’s innings firsthand, IPLT20.com thought it best to catch up with the Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman at the end of the game for an exclusive interview.
How soon did you size up the wicket when you were opening?
I found it pretty tough to start. The way Gauti [Gautam Gambhir] is playing, he just makes things look ridiculously easy. He played some unbelievable cricket and probably made the wicket look a lot better than what it was. It [the wicket] certainly played a lot better than the ones we’ve had here. Hopefully, it will be the theme of things to come.
You scored only 11 from the first 20 deliveries you faced and then suddenly took off to finish at 43 off 37 balls. Was that a conscious decision because you have had a tough start to the tournament?
I was just a little bit rusty as I haven’t spent too much time out in the middle. It’s always hard to come out when you are searching for a score and [then] try banging from the ball one. I tried to settle [down]. The good thing was that we were still scoring nine-ten runs per over. It was nice to play a good hand and put up 90 [odd] runs for the first wicket. You enjoyed going after Daniel Vettori as well?
Yeah. He normally gets me out, and did it again. He is a fine bowler and you can’t just sit on him. You have to try and score off him, otherwise he will just bowl his four overs for eight or nine runs. Yes, he won in the end, but I managed to get a few runs off him.
Gambhir seems to be leading from the front. He is among the leading run-getters in the tournament. Is he putting extra pressure on himself?
He is playing an incredible role, and obviously, he is a very, very good leader. He has been recognized as captain of India in the past and we can all understand why. He is playing very well and he is also leading very well. It’s great for us to have that from our skipper. You have been part of the KKR side for four out of five seasons the competition has been played. Do you think this is the most balanced KKR side?
Yes, definitely. While we had a reasonable team early on, but we were struggling to get things going. But moving on five years, the balance of the side we have got is outstanding. We have strengthened both our bowling and batting and you look at the Indian players, they are really standing out. It’s definitely a better balanced team. We have a long way to go, but we are playing well at the moment, which is good.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Azhar Mahmood took that step in 2003 when he left his motherland, Pakistan, to play county cricket in England. It has now brought him to the Indian Premier League where he dons the Kings XI Punjab’s shade of red. Born in Rawalpindi, Mahmood now calls Mohali his home. He talked us through his journey from Punjab to Punjab with a thousand miles in between.
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “A roller coaster ride and I have no complaints. I’m now playing in the IPL and playing competitive cricket around the world,” Mahmood told iplt20.com in an exclusive chat.
The big decision
Mahmood recalls the time when he was faced with the choice between his country and cricket. He says, “The move to county wasn’t a tough decision to make.”
“I was in and out of the Pakistan side since 2003. I would be picked for one tournament and then be dropped despite doing well. It was very frustrating. When Saqlain Mushtaq asked me if I wanted to play in the county, I played for a month. Next year, I got into a five-year contract with Surrey.”
The divine plan
For someone who began his international career with three Test centuries against South Africa, it was fair to end up aggrieved and bitter over the premature departure. But Mahmood chose the path of positivity. He oozed belief when he spoke of his career as a plan made for him by the supreme power above.
“When I joined Surrey, they allowed two overseas players in a county side. In 2008, immediately after I got my nationality changed, they brought out a rule of having only one overseas player. I spoke to Rob Key of Kent who said he was keen to have me in the side. I believe God has promised you your living and he worked things around to help me in every way. I’m not playing international cricket, but my life has been very good.” A learning ground
For a player from the subcontinent to play in English conditions among foreigners is a challenge. For this gritty all-rounder from Pakistan, it emerged as a new avenue to hone his cricketing skills and grow as a person.
“The conditions there are very different from Asia. I learned so many things there, including how to play swing bowling better. I understand the game much better now and my temperament has improved. In this game, you learn something each and every day. Playing with players from different countries and cultures teaches you a lot about the game and life in general." IPL calling
After 17 years of first-class cricket, Mahmood embraced the Twenty20 format in 2011. He played pivotal roles in taking the Auckland Aces (HRV Cup, New Zealand) and the Dhaka Gladiators (Bangladesh Premier League) to Twenty20 titles in the 2011-12 season. These performances led him to his final destination – the Indian Premier League.
“After international cricket, IPL is the biggest cricket tournament in the world. It features all world-class players and every cricketer wants to be a part of such tournament. I had put my name forward for the IPL last year but missed out due to lack of good performance. This season, I batted at No.3 for Kent, Auckland and Dhaka and got enough opportunities to score runs. I applied again, and now I’m really glad to be a part of the IPL and KXIP.”
A thumping arrival
The easiest way to settle into a new team is by proving your worth on the field and earning the respect of your teammates. Mahmood did just that on his IPL debut. Against a big team like RCB, he smashed a 14-ball 33. Three matches later, he’s looked upon in the KXIP dressing room as a senior and valuable player.
“When I joined the squad, every single player welcomed me with open arms. There are a lot of Punjabi-speaking players, and I being a Punjabi myself helped me gel within the team well. I was a bit nervous ahead of the first game against KKR, but I didn’t play that game. Whenever you go to a new tournament and a new team, you feel a little conscious. But when I got a game, I played naturally. There was no pressure. I knew everyone was behind me. There were a lot of messages from the IPL and from England as well. That was a boost.”
The rendezvous with India
Cricketers are revered in India. No wonder, they love coming here. Mahmood had tasted the stardom when he toured here with the Pakistan team. He says nothing has changed since then.
“I remember coming to play cricket in India for the first time in 1997. Before that tour, I played four or five ODIs and no one knew me in Pakistan. On that tour, I once went shopping in Hyderabad. When I came out of the shop after 10 minutes, the road was totally blocked. There was a huge mob wanting my autograph and photos. There was so much love and support and it hasn’t changed after all these years. The Indians love the game and the cricketers, irrespective of which country they come from.”
Here’s a cricketer who values every opportunity he gets to go on the field; who acknowledges how lucky he is to play the sport he loves. He hasn’t got anything easy and he’s prepared to work hard each day. At the age of 37, Azhar Mahmood is exploring new cricketing avenues, and a successful IPL 2012 is his goal now.