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He may have missed out on a half-century, but Ashok Menaria played a mature innings to help the Rajasthan Royals post a competitive total on a good batting track against the Kolkata Knight Riders. The 21-year-old’s 30-ball 40 even earned him high praise from RR’s Raj Kundra.
“He is one of the best players in my squad,” said the RR co-owner after the home team beat KKR here today. “Well done, keep it up,” Kundra told Menaria after asking him to go for a half-century next time he took strike. After the match, Menaria spoke to iplt20.com.
Excerpts from his chat with iplt20.com:
On RR continuing their winning streak at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium
Yes. This time our batting is clicking better. In the last match we made 190-odd runs and today again 170-odd, so the batting is better. Our middle order is stronger this time. On whether the wicket is aiding RR
Yes obviously. We have been playing cricket here for the last one month. We have played about 15 practice matches here, while the new team comes and plays the one game here, so we do get a bit of benefit out of that.
On whether his form in domestic cricket has helped him to carry forward the momentum in IPL 2012
Yes obviously. If you score runs in domestic cricket, then having those runs behind you gives you moral support and so your confidence level is different [better]. So it is always good having runs behind you when you play the next game. On whether there was a change in batting strategy after RR lost couple of early wickets, including that of Ajinkya Rahane
No. My role in the team is to play cricket the way I know to play. If I feel I have to hit a ball, I can hit it and if I feel I should defend it, I can [do] that. The team does not put any pressure on me. That is the best thing for me in this team.
On whether he and Brad Hodge had a strategy or target in mind while batting
No. We were only discussing and deciding who will hit which bowler. The ones he found difficult, I was hitting, and the ones I found difficult to negotiate, he hit. Hodge was hitting the incoming bowlers like Yusuf bhai [Pathan], scoring sixes and fours off them. And that helps when you are batting with big players [like Hodge]. On missing his fifty
More than scoring the fifty, it is important whether your team is winning or losing. Like in the last match, Ajinkya was also batting for the team [when he missed out on his hundred]. On whether they had a plan for Brett Lee
No. On whether 160-odd is a minimum target for RR, since they haven’t lost after scoring those many runs
We don’t think anything like that. After seeing the wicket, we decided what would be a par score on this track and try to get to it.
On their plan for defending the total against a good KKR batting line-up
We had only decided to vary the bowling as much as possible, and our bowlers bowled well, and ensuring that we don’t bowl to a particular batsman’s strengths. Like we know, that Yusuf Pathan will hit sixes off the off-spinner. So we brought in the off-spinner much later into the attack. On Kevon Cooper
He is a good player. He is good fielder, good bowler and a big hitter of the ball. He keeps the team motivation high. He is always energetic, so that makes a difference on the field. On his expectations from the IPL going ahead
Not only for me, but for all youngsters IPL is a big platform. If you perform well you will play for India, so this is a big platform.
4291 Runs scored by Brad Hodge in T20s – the most by any batsman in this format. He moved ahead of compatriot David Hussey’s tally of 4283 runs.
100 Percent – Rajasthan Royals’ win-percentage after scoring 160 or more runs batting first. They have won on all 10 such occasions. 27 for four – Kolkata Knight Riders’ total at the end of first six overs – the lowest for any side in IPL 2012. Mumbai Indians had also made 27 (for three) against Pune Warriors at Mumbai. 8 Kolkata Knight Riders’ at the fall of the third wicket – their worst-ever start in any IPL game. 7 Number of wickets taken by Kevon Cooper – the most by any bowler in IPL 2012. This means Rajasthan Royals now have both, the Orange Cap (held by Ajinkya Rahane) and the Purple Cap.
2 Number of bowlers to bowl a maiden in IPL 2012. Siddarth Trivedi now has one to his name, after Mumbai Indians’ Lasith Malinga.