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Shirin Sadikot in Bengaluru 05 April 2013 - 02:39am IST

Relieved to be on same side as Gayle: Kartik

Left-arm spinner is chuffed with his start in the RCB red

The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s thrilling win in their first match in Pepsi IPL 2013 will be remembered for Chris Gayle’s cyclonic 92 (not-out) off 58 balls. Dinesh Karthik’s valiant 60 (off 37 balls), which turned out to be insufficient for Mumbai Indians, could also be mentioned as will Vinay Kumar’s double wicket last over.

However, one performance that will slip under the radar of statistics is Murali Kartik’s bowling effort of 4-0-24-1. The figures hold importance not only because of their miserly nature on the green and hard M Chinnaswamy Stadium track. It was also crucial to RCB’s fortunes because the man Kartik dismissed was Ricky Ponting (28 off 33 balls), the MI captain and opening batsman. And the wicket was taken just when Ponting was beginning to look dangerous after seeing off the cautious first few overs.

After RCB’s two-run win at Bangalore, Kartik caught up with iplt20.com to share the perfect beginning of his journey in the RCB reds. The 36-year-old veteran left-arm spinner also spoke of the experience of sharing the dressing room with Muttiah Muralitharan, the relief of having Gayle on his side and his never-dying passion for the game.

You picked a match-changing wicket of Ricky Ponting and helped the team win. A perfect way to settle in a new team?

It’s always good. Having played for such a long time the team expects a lot from you. However, it’s different with the RCB in the way that I’ve been a lead spinner for my previous teams but here I play with a champion spinner like Muttiah Muralitharan. The IPL is a very long journey and it’s satisfying to win a close game like this first up against a strong side like Mumbai Indians.

Did you ever think that one day you’ll bowl alongside Muttiah Muralitharan?

They say cricket is a funny game but the fact is that it is a very simple game in which funny things happen. I’ve played with so many legends of the game and now I’m sharing the ball with Muralitharan. He’s one of the humblest guys I’ve ever met – of course you can add people like [Ricky] Ponting and Sachin [Tendulkar] there – but for someone who’s taken mindboggling 2000 wickets in his career, Murali is absolutely down to earth. Just to share the dressing room with him and have that friendly banter with him, I’m blessed.

Until now you mostly played IPL matches under Sourav Ganguly. How’s it playing under a young captain like Virat Kohli?

He’s young and extremely passionate; you can see that on the field as well, even when he’s not the captain. Standing in the slips in Test matches, you can see that every time a wicket falls, he’s completely charged up as if he has picked the wicket. That’s a brilliant quality to have. He’s in the form of his life as a batsman and has been earmarked as the future India leader. So, for him to be leading the charge over here with so many superb players like [Chris] Gayle, AB de Villiers, Muralitharan, will be a huge learning process as a leader. This is a good place for him to start.

The Bangalore wicket is known to assist the seamers and batsmen. How much of your experience of bowling on similar wickets in England counties will help you on this track throughout the tournament?

In England you hardly get spin-friendly wicket and during the long season, sometimes you’re playing at one end of the ground. So, the boundary is 50 yards on one side and 90 yards on the other. Experience teaches you a lot and having played for such a long time you learn from all the mistakes you’ve made. Yes, on this track, that experience of playing in counties played a part in my contribution today. But this was just the first game and in T20 cricket, after bowling a good three-over spell you can be taken to the cleaners in the fourth over.

Is it a relief to have Chris Gayle in your side?

I’ve been bowling to him right since my India A days, in 1998. Chris was a big unit then and he’s become bigger now. I’ve bowled a bit to him at the international level as well; I remember bowling to him in an ODI during the powerplay. It was a daunting prospect bowling to him then. In the IPL I’ve been fortunate to have him in my team most of the time, first with KKR and now with RCB. He can hit me for a million sixes in the nets but in a match you’re happy to give the ball to someone else when he’s batting.

IPL is a platform for the youngsters to gain international experience. What does a pro like you look to gain out of it?

It’s personal pride at the end of the day. I’ll keep pushing myself. You never know what pans out. As long as the ball is coming rightly out of my hand and I’m running in and contributing in the field as well, I’m happy to keep playing. Many experts believe that I’m still the best left-arm spinner in the country. I’ll do what I can and the rest of it is not in my hand.

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