Mandeep’s a terrific player: Gilchrist

Kings XI Punjab captain-cum-coach praises in-form, young opener

By Akshay Manwani
Hyderabad 09 May 2012
After winning four out of their last six matches, including their 25-run victory over the Deccan Chargers today, Kings XI Punjab have suddenly emerged as one of the teams battling for a place in the playoffs. With 12 points from as many games, the Punjab franchise are tied with the fourth-ranked Rajasthan Royals, but are placed in fifth position due to a poorer net run-rate. caught up with Kings XI Punjab coach-cum-captain, Adam Gilchrist, to find out his thoughts on his team’s resurgence and young Mandeep Singh’s sparkling run in the tournament.

After a slow start, you are in playoff contention now.

That’s what everyone said all along. It is a very even competition. There is a bunch [of teams] in the middle [of the league standings] who are trying to push through to the last two [playoff] spots. The first two are reasonably secure. We are in contention and it’s nice to be there.

You were praising Mandeep Singh yesterday and he performed today as well. Things seem to have changed for him after he started opening the batting for your side.

It’s a difficult one across all the franchises that Indian batsmen are asked to come in generally after the big international players and bat at [No.] 6 and 7, and try to score at a strike rate of 200. It’s difficult. He [Mandeep] also went through the same last year in a couple of games that we played him in. But he is a terrific young player; a compact cricketer. He plays beautiful cricket shots and if you can get him up the order, you can get value for those shots when the field is up. He has played extremely well.

David Miller also played a good cameo today; terrific for someone of his age to come in and perform in these pressure situations.

He has taken his opportunity that each time he has played. It’s a credit to him.

Praveen Kumar bowled brilliantly today up front. Your team’s become a better unit when Praveen delivers.

Yes. He is obviously a big part of our bowling line-up. He has done a terrific job. He went six or seven games in tournament without a wicket, but still managed to be quite economical in doing so. He bowled four overs for eight runs against the likes of Chris Gayle in Bangalore. He is an integral part of it [the bowling attack].

You have been the coach and captain, but tell us something about Vikram Rathour. He appears to shun the limelight, but I am sure he is a big influence on the side given his international experience.

Absolutely. I have spoken a lot about the coaching unit we have got. I don’t see myself as a head coach. But I’ll put my hand up and take responsibility if somebody has to take the blame for something. Mike Young [assistant coach] is world-class; Joe Dawes [bowling coach] as well. But Vikram is much understated. He is very quiet and very observant. He has got a very good eye for talent and he is a very knowledgeable person on the game. He has been fantastic.

You opted to rest for one more game as you have a five-day gap before the next game. Can we hope to see you in the next game on the 13th at Mohali?

I am hoping to be available. I felt good prior to this [today’s game], but I hope to be available for selection [before the next game]. And then, we have to work out what our best team is. Whether or not I am in, that needs to be worked out. Nitin Saini is doing a wonderful job behind the stumps and has played a couple of very good innings for us. But it will be nice to be available, and then, we will make our decision from there.

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