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Kulkarni, who has been watching from the sidelines as MI claimed a spot in the playoffs, was happy to get the opportunity to take the field and contribute to a winning cause.
In a post match interview with iplt20.com he spoke about dismissing his Mumbai teammate Ajinkya Rahane and then picking the prized scalp of veteran batsman Rahul Dravid. Excerpts from his brief interaction:
When did you come to know that you would be playing today?
I came to know in the afternoon during the team meeting. I felt good that I would be playing after waiting for so long. I felt good that after waiting for 15 matches, I will be playing in the 16th match. I had to grab the opportunity, no matter what.
In your very first game, you claimed three wickets, two of which were Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid. Your thoughts on that.
Claiming Ajinkya’s wicket was the most exciting thing for me because he is my teammate [in the Mumbai team in the domestic circuit] and he and I are such good friends that we even share the room while playing for Mumbai. So, picking his wicket was exciting for me. And then, taking the wicket of Rahul Dravid, who is a great player, makes me feel good. Did you have any special plan for Rahane?
No. [There was] no planning. He has been facing me in the nets [when we play for Mumbai] so I had an idea of where to bowl to him.
What was the motivation to win today, given that MI had already qualified for the playoffs prior to this game?
Mumbai cricket has taught me the never-give-up attitude and that was at the back of mind. My personal goal was to perform and help my team win; and I did that.
How did you keep yourself motivated when you were on the bench? It must have been a bit difficult.
Yes, it was a bit difficult because I was on the bench, didn’t get an opportunity. I was waiting for the opportunity and I have been able to perform when I got it.
What have you learnt from being around international players and former cricketers like Shaun Pollock?
You get to learn a lot from them. You keep discussing cricket with them and he has helped me a lot in the nets as well. We have done some changes in my run-up. My run-up used to be very close to the stumps because in the first and second IPL I used bowl a little wide of the crease. He has been talking to me about that and that has helped me a lot.
Was the MI dressing room a little relaxed coming into today’s match?
Yes, we were very relaxed because we came to know yesterday itself that we had qualified for the playoffs. So, the atmosphere in the dressing room was happy. Your team now plays the Chennai Super Kings in the playoff eliminator. Do you derive confidence from the fact that they have just managed to scrape through to the playoffs?
They are a very good team and you cannot underestimate them. We know our game and we try to do what we know best.
The Rajasthan Royals, who started IPL 2012 as a dark horse, were later in contention of a playoff spot. However, they’ve only managed to finish at No.7 on the points table, after losing their last two games of the season. In their last game of IPL 2012, the Royals were dominated by the might of Sachin Tendulkar andDwayne Smith who chased down 163 with their unbroken opening stand.
Promoted up the Royals’ order in the last few games, all-rounder Stuart Binny today chipped in with a useful 30 runs after they opted to bat first. The Karnataka player discussed the positives from the season for him and his team, after the disappointing loss. Excerpts from Binny’s brief interview:
On the disappointing loss
Yes, we are very disappointed. Once we didn’t qualify, I think our spirits went down a bit. But we just needed to go out and play good cricket today, show some positive [intent], especially someone like me who hasn’t really got a big run in the IPL; it was very important. On the team’s highs and lows this season
Definitely, there are positives. The way we played in the first half, when we were on the top of the table, showed that our team has a lot of spirit and the players really back each other here. So I think lot of positives to take from the season.
On whether they were a few runs short while setting the target
The wicket initially did seam a bit, so it got a little difficult [to bat on]. I think we batted well from where we were [after losing early wickets] to get to what we did. But they just batted us out of the game. They never gave us chance to pick even one wicket. When batsmen are batting so well, it’s really hard to come back into the game. On whether the dropped catches made the difference
Yes, definitely. If you take catches and get a new batsman in, it does create some pressure on the batting side. But sometimes you do drop a few.
On Dwayne Smith being dropped early on
It was a crucial catch. If we would have got him out early, he wouldn’t have got those 80-odd runs. But then, it happens [...]. On how the season panned out for him
I would say it was a decent season. I finished off well. I never really got chance to bat, but in the last three games I was promoted to No. 4. I was happy with the way I batted at No.4, which shows that I can take on the bowling in the IPL. I am pleased with what I have done batting at No.4.
On playing under Rahul Dravid
I grew up as a kid in Bangalore and I also play in the same club as Rahul. He is also my Ranji Trophy captain, so I have learnt a lot from him. Learnt a lot from his character, the way he handles himself under pressure and when you play a certain shot and such things. It has definitely helped me a lot in my career. I am looking to play for a couple of more years with him.