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Royal Challengers Bangalore have had a mixed start to IPL 2012. After beating Delhi Daredevils by 20 runs, they suffered a thrashing at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders. Their vaunted batting line-up has failed to live up to the high expectations. However, there is a big positive for RCB this season with their bowlers finally stepping up to the plate.
They defended 157 against DD on a good batting track and then restricted KKR to 165 for 8 after causing an extraordinary middle-order collapse. After their 42-run defeat, RCB’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan spoke to iplt20.com about his team’s bowling attack and overall performance so far.
You are coming after some rest. How is your body holding up and how is your bowling rhythm?
It’s been good so far. In the first game, I was trying to get into it, and this game I was feeling much better. So I hope to build on this now.
RCB has always been a strong batting side and their bowling was letting the team down. Is it the opposite this season?
Not really. It’s just been two games. In the first game, we did brilliantly and it was a terrific team effort. Today, you saw KKR was going really well. But we pulled it back. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it with the bat, but there are no worries as such. It’s just the beginning of the tournament and once our batters come into knick, we will go a long way. Are you happy that the bowlers are finally stepping up?
It’s all about winning matches and that’s what is important for us as a team. At the end of the day, it’s a team game, so everyone is looking to contribute and everyone is looking to give their best as team comes first. You have bowled alongside two great spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble. What is it like bowling with Muttiah Muralitharan and Daniel Vettori now?
This is a different format and I am enjoying every bit of it. Vettori is a great bowler and a very good leader, and Murali is so experienced and special. It’s been good fun, It’s good to talk about their experiences and how they deal with their preparations. It’s been wonderful so far.
You have bowled to so many dangerous batsmen in the world. Who do you think is the most dangerous batsman in Twenty20 cricket?
T20 is such a format where you see batters improvising. As a bowler, it’s really important to have a clear mindset and have a set plan for each batter; I feel that’s the best you can do. I don’t want to name any [one batsman]. There are couple of players in every team. There is MS Dhoni and there is Yusuf Pathan. Yuvraj Singh is not playing but he is also of them. Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and someone experienced like Sachin [Tendulkar], who has got range of shots, who can really play around with the field placement. On any given day, any batter can be dangerous, and there are few in every team.
Whether it’s with a colour-tinged Mohawk or the innovative ‘palti-hit’, KP has been a trendsetter both on and off the field. The charismatic batsman, who occupies the sporting stratosphere, would choose to be a pilot in a non-cricketing life. We take off on a flight of fancy with one of IPL’s most colourful personalities, Kevin Pietersen.
Excerpts from KP’s brunch-time chat with iplt20.com:
1. Nickname: KP
2. Idol: My little boy, Dylan
3. Life’s mantra: What will be, will be. I try as hard as I can to give myself the best opportunity to be successful
4. Favourite cuisine: Meat
5. Favourite beverage: I’m not really a big drinker. I don’t have a favourite drink.
6. I can’t do without: Sweets
7. Favourite movie: Braveheart
8. Favourite band: I listen to all sorts of different music. I don’t have a favourite band.
9. Style statement: Be yourself. Don’t be a sheep; don’t follow [others]. Be yourself; be different
10. Favourite TV series: Entourage
11. Best pal in cricket: I have lots of very good friends in cricket but I like to keep my best friends away from cricket.
12. Best bowler I’ve faced: Mohammad Asif
13. Worst bowler I’ve faced: I wouldn’t like to say.
14. Favourite shot: My favourite regulation shot is the drive down the ground because then I know that I am playing well. Then the switch-hit is something that I was lucky enough to bring into the game. It changed the game, which was cool. That’s what I am known for and it’s a pretty good shot. The palti hit!
15. Best bowler in the world: Saeed Ajmal
16. Best batsman in the world: Jacques Kallis
17. Favourite stadium in the world: Adelaide Oval
18. Best innings: I have had a few enjoyable ones. I think the toughest one is the 151 in Colombo. It’s been the toughest innings I have ever played because of the pure heat.
19. If I weren’t a cricketer I’d be a: Pilot
20. Bowler I wouldn’t want to face right now: Mohammad Asif