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CSK batsman feels his team has luck and form on its side ahead of final against KKR
By Hoshedar N. Gundevia
Chennai 26 May 2012
They persevered and destiny delivered. The Chennai Super Kingswere almost out of the tournament, but belief in their ability and a good slice of luck finds them a win short of claiming an unprecedented hat-trick of IPL titles. Faf du Plessisalready has an IPL title, but his contribution in the 2011 win was negligible. IPL 2012, on the other hand, has seen the South African flourish into a solid performer for the Super Kings. He has often carried his team’s batting in the initial stages.
The 27-year-old believes CSK were lucky to qualify for the playoffs, but have now begun to hit their stride exactly when it matters. Two-time champions, CSK go into the final on Sunday, against the Kolkata Knight Riders, with plenty of experience and a quiet confidence that brings out the best in them. Iplt20.com caught up with du Plessis after CSK’s commanding win over DD in Qualifier 2.
The final seemed a distant dream; now a reality. What’s the team’s initial reaction?
We are playing our best cricket now and it’s awesome. We struggled a bit before the eliminators but that’s something Chennai has done over the years, is play their best cricket in the big games and we are doing that at the moment. So, that gives us a lot of confidence before the finals.
Is making it count in big games in CSK’s DNA?
I think it comes from the leadership; [Stephen] Fleming is good with the big games and also MS [Dhoni]. MS has played in a lot of big tournaments and he has won the World Cup. So, he is pretty cool when it comes to that and most of the players now have the same feeling. Most of the guys in the CSK have been here for the couple of years and we have won those trophies, so when we get to this stage of the competition where it is now, we have got this sense of calmness and maybe the other teams feel a bit of pressure that we have won silverware. We just go there and express ourselves. How important is being backed by the team management?
As a player, the only thing you want is to be backed by the coaching staff and also the captain, and that was showed by Murali Vijay tonight. He has not had the best of seasons and it was like last year when he scored a century in the final. He played a flawless innings tonight and also showed the character he has. He is also a big-match player and he proved that tonight, and hopefully, he can continue this form to the final.
What is it like to be a part of this golden generation for you?
If we win this year and make it three in a row, it will take some time for any other IPL team to do so. It’s lucky if you win two in a row, and I have been involved with a side, which has won two in a row other than Chennai; but not three in a row. So, that will be an achievement or call it a golden era.
You thoughts now obviously shift towards the final. Are you eager or apprehensive against KKR?
I think they are the best team who can compete with us. DD is a very good side as well, but KKR has got some very good match-winners. They have got good spinners and they have a good pace attack as well and they have got world-class batsmen. I think it will be a really good final. What is it like for you to play under MS Dhoni?
It’s similar to Murali Vijay, according to MS’s standards he hasn’t done well as he would have liked as he has done every year. This season has been a little bit under par for him and he comes into the big occasion when we needed him against MI [Mumbai Indians] and he played a fantastic innings, and tonight again he played well. I think it’s good for his confidence before going into the final. All our big players are doing well and someone like [Suresh] Raina is also just around the corner of doing well. All our batters are in good form, and bowlers also.
Do you guys feel that you are destined to win three in a row?
Our confidence has grown and I was the first one to say that we are lucky to make it to the semi-finals. We shouldn’t have been here. But since we are here, the team’s confidence has grown massively. It’s starting to feel like that it is our time again for us to do three in a row. You definitely need luck in all sports and we have had a lot of luck, but now we are playing our best cricket and that is most important.
After dominating the tournament right through the league phase, the Delhi Daredevilsfailed to pull their weight when it mattered the most. After a crushing loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders, Virender Sehwag’s men were battered by the Chennai Super Kings by 86 runs in Qualifier 2. While the team was guilty of peaking too early, one of their star international players found his form rather late in the tournament. Ross Taylor had a disappointing season by his own high standards and when runs did start flowing from his bat, there were not many opportunities left for him to make the most of his form.
After the shattering loss to CSK, Taylor spared a few minutes for iplt20.com. He admitted the Daredevils were outplayed in both their playoff games and vowed to come back stronger in the CLT20 2012.
Things just not going right for the team when it mattered most.
It is disappointing the way we finished. We started really well and we were confident before getting into the knockout [playoff] phase. But full credit to KKR and CSK, they deserved to be where they are and hopefully, we will be bigger and better for next year.
Do you think CSK’s big-match experience mattered in today’s game?
There are always crucial moments in the games. Murali Vijay batted really well and he exposed our young bowling attack. Young bowlers will learn from this and if we are in a similar situation, we will do better than what we did today.
How much did the team miss Morne Morkel?
We chose the side that we thought was good enough to win. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out well.
Did the wicket become slower in the second innings?
Every wicket always gets a little slower when you bat second, but I don’t think it slowed up too much. If we would have restricted them to the total we had thought of, it would have been a genius decision. But we made that decision and we didn’t play well enough to win this game. You were in indifferent form for the most part of the tournament, but regained your touch in the end. How would you assess your performances?
It’s disappointing the way I performed today. I started to hit the ball well towards the end of the tournament and it would have been nice to get some big scores. But in T20, sometimes it is a bit of a hit and miss. I was disappointed in the start of the tournament, but hopefully, I can show what I am about in the CLT20.
A spot in the 2012 CLT20 must be a good motivator for the team after this loss?
That’s a nice thing about the IPL – even if you don’t win it, if you’ve done well right through the tournament, you still get a chance to play in the CLT20. We have something where we can redeem ourselves, and hopefully, we go one step further and make it to the finals and maybe win it.