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When the Mumbai Indians hosted the Royal Challengers Bangalore, an interesting little battle brewed between the two big West Indians – Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle. While he was bowling, the MI all-rounder threatened to throw the ball at his compatriot when he was out of his crease. A war of words ensued, which Pollard insisted was “all in good humour”.
Pollard spoke to iplt20.com after MI’s comprehensive home loss to RCB during which he scored 21 off 13 balls to help his team to a respectable score of 141. The points table is really cramped and you need to win all your matches from here on. A lot of pressure?
We still have four games to play and it’s in our hands to play them well. In order to qualify, we just need to go and perform there. The team got off to a slow start and lost early wickets. Did that cost you the game?
We got off to a slow start, and that happens in the game of cricket. I was able to come out and finish it off well for the team and got the team to a respectable total. We play as a team and everyone is going to get their chance. [Dwayne] Smith won us the last game, but couldn’t do much today; it’s just a part of the game.
There was a little banter between you and Gayle. Tell us about it.
It was all in a good humour. We both come from the West Indies, so it was pretty chilled out and calm. Cricket is a gentlemen’s game, but you’ve got to have some fun as well. It’s just about enjoying the cricket and enjoying T20.
How was the wicket like? What did you you enjoy more – batting or bowling?
It was a good cricket wicket. We didn’t get to the start we wanted and the ball was moving a bit, but it happens in T20 cricket. We went wrong in a few areas and we will look to improve on that and won’t blame it on the wicket. Did it get better in the second innings to bat on?
Yeah, you can say so. Gayle batted beautifully and hit some huge sixes. We knew we had to get early wickets, but we couldn’t do so, and that put us the backfoot. Was Gayle’s dropped catch the turning point of the game?
If we would have taken the catch, it would have been a different ball game. But you cannot be sure as someone else would have come and played a blinder. It’s not about blaming anyone. We simply just didn’t have enough runs on the board. We went there and fought, but didn’t come out in our favour. Would you like to bat higher up the order?
I want each and every one in the team to get an opportunity. I got my opportunities in earlier games, but didn’t do the way I wanted to. I am just going to do what the team needs from me.
The profession of wicketkeeper-batsman can be classified into two eras – pre and post-Adam Gilchrist. Until 1996, a wicketkeeper was expected to convert edges into catches, stop byes, gee up his teammates and irritate the batsman with constant chatter. Whatever he scored with the bat was a bonus. Then emerged a boy from New South Wales, who revolutionised this role. He won matches singlehandedly with the bat, flattening the morale of the bowlers – whether opening the batting in ODIs or batting at No.7 in Tests.
Arguably the best wicketkeeper-batsman ever, Gilchrist has been a part of the Indian Premier League since its inaugural season. Even at the age of 40, he is one of the most feared opening batsmen and is fitter than some of the young ‘keepers in the world. On a relaxed morning of a non-match day, the leader-cum-mentor of Kings XI Punjab took time to chat with iplt20.com and expressed his views on the top wicketkeeper-batsmen in IPL 2012.
Gilchrist spoke at length about his favourite wicketkeeper-batsman. He hailed his sharp cricketing mind, powerful batting skills and wished he carried his fearless brand of batting in Tests too. (Click here to read Gilly’s take on Dhoni)
A shrewd customer
He is an extremely hard working professional, which you can see when he is on the field. He is a very intelligent cricketer. You can see he puts a lot of thought and preparation into the way he goes about his cricket.
The ‘keeper: Versatility personified
He’s not keeping in this tournament. But along with Dhoni, Sanga’s another ‘keeper who I haven’t seen making blunders, which have cost his side. He has done an extremely difficult job of keeping to Muttiah Muralitharan and the variety of spinners in the subcontinent. I haven’t seen him ‘keeping in England, but what I’ve seen of him in Australia has been very impressive. He seems to make adjustments to varying conditions with ease.
Relinquishing the gloves
Kumar has given up wicketkeeping in Tests. I haven’t spoken to him directly, but I think it could be in order to extract maximum out of his batting. It’s a personal decision. If I had given up ‘keeping, my batting probably would have gone down because keeping added a balance in my game. I played 10 first class games in the beginning of my career as a batsman and I never felt like a complete cricketer. I put too much pressure on my batting when I didn’t have anything else to offer to my team, whereas when I was a wicketkeeper, wicketkeeping was my job and batting was just a bonus. Kumar could have continued keeping and batting lower down the order; but at the end, it’s his choice.
The batsman: Class meets aggression
He is one of the top three batsmen in the world currently and will go down as one of the top fifteen in the world ever. He really is a class act in the batting. He plays by the textbook but is not less aggressive. He has the ability of playing shots and maintaining high strike-rate. Even in Test cricket, he can bat with a good pace, which allows his team to bowl the opposition out. He is classy but just as aggressive.
The ‘keeper: The unsung performer
Again, he doesn’t keep wicket in Test cricket to try and extract maximum from his batting. When he is keeping, he is really athletic. It’s really a tough job to keep in New Zealand where the ball wobbles around a bit. He has probably had as difficult a job as any other wicketkeeper because New Zealand never had a bowling attack, which could penetrate like some of the other teams. Therefore, fewer chances and fewer opportunities, which can make a wicketkeepers job more difficult. The batsman: A Firecracker
He is like a firecracker. I love watching him bat. He is prepared to try anything and use every single part of the bat to get runs, whether it’s the scoop over the head or reverse or whatever it may be. He is an out-and-out aggressor. AB de Villiers
Everything he does, he does a fine job of it. I swapped a shirt with him when we played for the first time against him in South Africa. I wanted to get something of his because I knew he was going to be a big superstar. What I like the most about him amongst his sharp catching and the way he scores runs is his desire to want to do whatever is required off him for the team. That sends a wonderful message to his team. Jonty’s grief
I understand why Jonty [Rhodes] is disappointed that AB has been thrust into the wicketkeeper’s role. In the field [he] is magic to watch. But I think in T20 cricket, filling up a position and giving your team an option to play an extra bowler or batsman is far more important than him being on the field. Jonty may disagree being a fielding coach and an exceptional fielder himself, but AB keeping gives RCB more flexibility in the line-up.
The eye-catching young ‘uns
Mathew Wade from Australia is not here this year, but he has shown really good signs. He scored a hundred in Test cricket in Brad Haddin’s absence. The more he is exposed to the higher level, the more he’ll improve. He is a hard working character.
Another guy I am really impressed with is Nitin Saini in KXIP. He got an opportunity after I got injured. You wouldn’t say he is a flamboyant cricketer who everyone is going to notice, but he has got a terrific work ethic. He is going to blossom with time as more opportunities come his way.