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KXIP skipper happy with squad ahead of season opener
By IPL Staff
Jaipur 05 April 2012
After a late-afternoon training session at the Rajasthan Cricket Association’s academy ground, Adam Gilchrist addressed the media before heading off to practice under lights at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here. Ahead of their tournament opener, the Kings XI Punjab captain- coach said that although the Rajasthan Royals will have a different feel in the absence of Shane Warne, the Rahul Dravid-led team is a formidable opposition. Excerpts from Gilchrist’s media interaction: On the players brought into KXIP this year
As for as the auction goes, it was there for everyone to see that when the big bidding started for what may be known as the bigger name players, we weren’t in there with the bidding. [...] We just tried to bolster the overall balance of the squad. We have got two world-class fast bowlers in Stuart Broad and Ryan Harris in our squad. As [for] international [players] we have Praveen Kumar, a world-class fast opening bowler. So we are pretty well-served in that area. We are very well-served with batting depth, particularly with our internationals, and [I am] very very happy with our Indian batting depth on the back of guys like Paul Valthaty [who performed well] last year, and I have got great confidence in Abhishek Nayar who is an experienced player. And we have got young talent, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh, to name a few, and also Paras Dogra. So overall, in the outcome of the auction, we have got a well-balanced squad [...]. We have got a really good group of all-rounders like James Faulkner. We are happy with our batting depth as well, and the spin bowling options as well. [...]. There weren’t guys fetching USD 2 million and USD 1.3 million; we were more than happy to take on board the players that we were able to purchase.
On the fitness of the players
[...] Stuart Broad and Ryan Harris weren’t ever going to be available for the first two games. Subsequently, Stuart Broad has been injured and has gone home. We are monitoring that on a daily basis. He is pretty optimistic that he is going to take part in the tournament. So we need to just find out more from the English medical staff what they are going to allow him to do, and I will monitor that on a day-to-day basis. I wouldn’t expect we would see him at the moment for at least a week or two minimum. Other than that everyone is pretty fit. On whether having beaten Rajasthan Royals last year helps going into tomorrow’s match
I guess a lot of teams do look to the previous year just to get an idea of more plans that they had on individuals. The result doesn’t factor into it too much given that it was in different conditions than what we are playing in tomorrow. Already there is a different make-up [composition] in different teams. There is definitely a different feel to Rajasthan Royals without Shane Warne around. There is no doubt about that. He was such a strong personality and such a strong leader [that] it will be different [this time]. I am not saying whether it will be better or worse. Rahul Dravid is a wonderful person and a fine cricketer, and I know he will be determined to lead well, but there will be a different feel and it will be a good challenge. On the RR team
I wouldn’t say they are a bit weak. I think they are a lot like us. They probably had a bit more of a limited opportunity at the auction to purchase players and they have secured a group that they feel are going to do the job. All-round there are some great cricketers there [in RR]. It is Twenty20 cricket; nothing can be taken for granted. No team can be guaranteed to beat any other team. It [the match] is open on the day.
On the pitch
The pitch looks like a beautiful wicket. I haven’t been here since the first of year of IPL. In year two, we played in South Africa in the third year we played them in Ahmedabad. Last year we didn’t play them here, we played them at home. From what I have watched on television last year, it looks like it might have a little bit more grass, binding it all together. This looks like a nice wicket.
Rajasthan Royals begin their IPL 2012 campaign with a home fixture against Kings XI Punjab. RR, playing their first season without Shane Warne, will look to repeat their title-winning performance in the inaugural IPL in 2008. Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, will be hoping to progress past the league round and into the playoffs; the Mohali franchise made it to the semi-final in the inaugural season (where they were beaten by Chennai Super Kings), but have since failed to finish the season in the top four teams.
Thursday, April 6, 2011, 08:00 p.m.
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Watch out for Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny and Shaun Tait in the Rajasthan Royals line-up. 37-year-old Hodge is among the most experienced Twenty20 cricketers in the world, and though he hasn’t set the IPL on fire yet, this could be his season. Hodge no longer plays the other formats of the game and is somewhat of a T20 specialist. Karnataka all-rounder Stuart Binny was in outstanding form – with both bat and ball – in the domestic first-class season and will be looking to carry that form into the IPL too. Among the bowlers, look out for the express pace of Shaun Tait (who holds the record for bowling the fastest delivery in international cricket), and for the spin of Johan Botha. And with Rahul Dravid at the helm, expect some strategic aces too.
In the Kings XI Punjab jersey, watch out for Paul Valthaty who impressed in IPL 2011 (he scored a century and finished among the top two run-getters for the team). Adam Gilchrist is always a key player, as much for his captaincy as for his batting; the 40-year-old dashing opener hasn’t played any competitive cricket since IPL 2011, but like any true champion, Gilly belies his age and gives it his all every game. Also, look out for 37-year-old all-rounder Azhar Mahmood who will be making his IPL debut.
Rajasthan Royals have a slight edge over Kings XI Punjab in meetings between these two teams with four wins from seven matches. RR have remained unbeaten in two home fixtures against Kings XI Punjab and will want to keep that record intact. Trivia
• Kings XI Punjab have in their line-up the most-capped Twenty20 player in the world – David Hussey. Hussey Jr. has so far appeared in 171 T20 matches.
• This match will feature the top two run-getters in the T20 format; KXIP’s David Hussey tops the list with 4270 runs, while RR’s Brad Hodge comes in a close second with 4226 runs.
• Among the 19 bowlers in the world to have taken 100 or more wickets in Twenty20 cricket, Rajasthan Royals’ Johan Botha has the best economy rate – 6.04. What next?
Rajasthan Royals will stay put at home after this fixture and will host the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, April 7. Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, will travel west to the brand new Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune to take on Pune Warriors India on April 8.