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Responsibility can have one of two effects on a person – it either brings out the best in them or it crumbles them. It’s difficult to say what the responsibility of leading theMumbai Indians has done toHarbhajan Singh the bowler. But as the man himself admits, it has mellowed him down as an individual. The once-temperamental Turbanator now has a more balanced outlook towards cricket and life. The maturity and patience is unmistakable when he talks to you. “You have to think differently as a captain, then you do as a player,” he says.
After leading the Mumbai Indians to the 2011, Harbhajan was thrust into captaincy in IPL 2012 when Sachin Tendulkar decided to step down. While tactically not the soundest captain, he has shown tremendous calmness during the various nervewracking situations that his team has faced right through the season.
After crossing all hurdles, MI have made it to the playoffs in Bhajji’s reign. On the eve of leading his team into the second qualifier, against the defending champions, Chennai Super Kings, the MI skipper spoke to iplt20.com about the season so far, his own bowling and the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. From some games in last IPL to the CLT20 and now IPL 2012 – what is that one area where you think you have really improved as a captain?
From the last time I have become calmer and more composed; I don’t get angry when things don’t go in our favour. At the end of the day, I have to understand that in this format, the bowlers will go for runs and sometimes batsmen will get out. If you come across as a guy who gets really aggressive when things don’t go in your favour, it will not set the right tone for the rest of the 10 guys on the field.
Did the number of close games that you played out this season help you deal with pressure situations?
Yes. Especially in T20 you do come across such situations often and you have to deal with them. You’ll eventually win some and lose some but being calm and composed at that moment will enable you to take better decisions. As a leader it is important to lead from the front, not only on the field but off it as well. You should send positive vibes to the team. There are times when you talk to your teammates and suddenly you realise that you can pull off the game from the most difficult positions. You have defeated CSK in both the league matches in the tournament. Will that give you an edge?
Whatever games we have played so far are all gone and I don’t believe in thinking of what has happened in the past. If I have to see this game, I will see it as a fresh one. CSK have been the champions twice and they will come hard at us knowing that it’s a must-win game. We have plans for them, and hopefully, we can execute them on the day. How much of an impact will Ben Hilfenhaus have, especially swinging the new ball?
It depends on the particular day whether he is swinging the ball or our batsmen are swinging the bat. We have got batsmen who can handle any kind of bowlers. We are looking forward to this game and we know that if we play to our potential, we can beat any side in this competition. After trying out eight different opening combinations, has the team found the best one yet?
Not yet. We have got [Herschelle] Gibbs who did well for us in Kolkata and now we have got [Dwayne] Smith who played a perfect innings in Rajasthan for us. We’ll discuss what the ideal combination would be for the day and the opposition. What is the biggest threat that CSK poses to your team?
They are a very confident bunch and they have the experience of playing these big games and winning them. That is probably their strength. They have players like MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel who have done well over the years for them.
Why haven’t you completed your quota of four overs in most games this season?
As a captain you need to read the game from a different prospective. For the team’s sake you have to take bold decisions of not bowling a bowler if he’s not required, be it Harbhajan, Muralitharan or Warne. It’s not that I don’t want to bowl – I always want to bowl as many overs that I can. But as a captain you have to stop thinking about yourself. I put my team ahead of single individuals and I feel that is very important to go forward. Would you field a pace-heavy bowling attack on this wicket?
I have not decided on what team to go with. Last time Pragyan Ojha played a crucial role in us beating CSK, with his two wickets. In this format, it’s not about which wicket you play on. It’s more about playing with the batsman’s mind.
KKR spinner says Gambhir’s support is helping him in IPL 2012
By Hoshedar N. Gundevia
Pune 23 May 2012
The USD 700,000 that Shah Rukh Khan and co. forked out for the services of Sunil Narineseem like a sound investment. The 23-year-old spinner has been in stellar form in IPL 2012. His 24 wickets have gone a long way in helping the Kolkata Knight Riders reach their maiden IPL final. Be it taking wickets or having a low economy rate, Narine has proven himself to be worthy of the purple and gold jersey of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Trinidadian now faces his biggest challenge in the IPL final, but the off-spinner is not at all daunted by the task that lies ahead. Instead, he looks forward to pitting his wits against his eventual opponents at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Excerpts from a brief interaction with Sunil Narine:
Debut season in the IPL and already in the final. What is the feeling like?
I am privileged to come in and play in the IPL and reach the final. I hope that boys can take it as a stepping stone and finish it off good.
Being KKR’s top wicket-taker must give you confidence heading into the final?
I think I have a lot of confidence at this moment and it makes it a lot easier for the captain as he can throw the ball to me with confidence. Captain having confidence in me gives me more confidence. Do you feel batsmen are more defensive while playing you?
I think it’s according to the situation. If a run-a-ball is good for the team, I don’t mind bowling the way I bowl. But if we need wickets, then I try my best to get wickets. Hopefully, I can continue taking wickets for my captain. What’s it like playing with fellow spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla?
I think we have a good combination and we are utilizing what we have. It’s on the captain and the support staff to pick the right team, and we have to go and perform. What sort of a relationship do you share with KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan?
He is a good owner and he just comes to the team meeting and lets the cricket staff do what they have to. That is the best thing he can do at the moment. Have you become more confident under Gautam Gambhir’s captaincy?
When a captain has belief in you that makes it a lot easier for you to have more belief in yourself. When the team is winning, everything is okay, and hopefully, we can continue and one more game to win, and hopefully, we can put everything out.
Do you see DD making the finals?
T20 is a game of plenty differences and whoever plays better cricket on the day will come out victorious.