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Why bother with mystery when you can bewilder them with simplicity? That could well have been the theme of celebration when Amit Mishra (11 scalps) regained the Purple Cap from Sunil Narine (10 scalps) with his two wickets against KXIP.
Of a breed getting as extinct as the Bengal Tiger, Mishra has proved the adage, ‘T20 cricket is tough work for leg-spinners because they tend to go for runs’ wrong with his scintillating IPL performances for the Surisers Hyderabad.
In a format which makes spinners run for cover, Mishra stuck to his instinct – to go for wickets. As a result, he has equalledLasith Malinga as the highest wicket-taker in IPL with 85 scalps.
We, at iplt20.com quizzed the leg-spinner from Haryana about his approach and style of bowling in this format, his young leggie partner at SRH and his conversation with the legendary Pakistan leg-spinner, Mushtaq Ahmed, currently the bowling mentor of theDelhi Daredevils.
The Purple Cap is back on your head. It seems to like it up there?
It feels really great, especially because my performance is helping the team win. It’s fun celebrating your own performance only after you’ve won as a team. Whatever hard work I put into my game is paying off here fortunately. In this format you can be taken for runs anytime. But we have played seven matches and my performance has been good so far. It’s a good feeling to be consistent in this fickle format.
With 85 wickets you have equalled Lasith Malinga as the all-time highest IPL wicket-taker. Were you aware of it?
No, I knew I was placed second but it’s good to know that I have equalled him now. The best players from all over the world come together in the IPL and to perform well here is a big achievement for me.
They say it’s very difficult for leg-spinners to succeed in the T20 format because they tend to go for runs. What is your secret?
My only secret is that I always bowl to my strength. I know and everyone tells me that I am a wicket-taking bowler. So, I work more on my wicket-taking skills. I believe getting wickets is the best way to put the pressure on the batting side in the T20 format.
What kind of changes do you bring about when bowling in the shortest format?
I do bring in a lot of changes. I keep varying the pace, use the googly more often, bowl topspin, flipper, etc. Like that the batsman will not be at ease knowing what’s coming his way. The idea is to keep him guessing.
What’s your take on the young leg-spinner in SRH, Karan Sharma?
He’s a good bowler and has a lot of potential. The good thing is that we’re bowling well in tandem. We talk a lot to each other about our bowling.
These days it’s very rare to have two leggies playing together in one side. Do you enjoy having someone around who knows your art?
I really do, actually. Whenever I see a new leg-spinner, I love to know about his bowling and how he does things differently from me. I always keep talking to him about the variations he has and the new innovations he is developing. The more variety and knowledge you have, it’s better for you as a spinner.
Have you had any interactions with Mushtaq Ahmed?
I spoke to him for a bit when we played against the Daredevils in Delhi. I am looking forward to talking to him at length about my bowling and leg-spin bowling in general when DD come to play in Hyderabad. I just want to ask him about my flaws and how I can improve as a bowler.
As a bowling unit, how confident do you all feel to know that you have been winning matches for the team in a batsman’s format?
Every team has a strong area and so far for us it has been our bowling. Our batting hasn’t been doing too well but I am sure that we will get better in that aspect in the coming games. Honestly, we have been a bit stuck up in our batting. But we are working hard on it and are confident the results will show soon.
When you have David Hussey – world’s third-highest run-getter in Twenty20 cricket – and Adam Gilchrist – the most destructive wicketkeeper-batsman of his time – in the top-four of your line-up, you don’t expect to lose matches on account of your batting.
But that’s exactly what has happened withKings XI Punjab this IPL season. In five matches so far, KXIP have crossed the 140-run mark only once. Their latest batting implosion came in Hyderabad, as they lost five wickets for 27 runs in four overs.
Although the Sunrisers Hyderabad – who themselves are trying to find answers to their batting woes – lost five wickets, they never once looked uncomfortable chasing 124.
After the loss, KXIP’s senior batsman, David Hussey, admitted in his chat with iplt20.com that it’s high time the batsmen, starting with himself, start putting a price-tag on their wicket. Hussey hoped Adam Gilchrist’s 25-ball 26 was a sign of a purple patch for the veteran opener. The younger of the Hussey brothers praised his elder sibling, Michael, for his fine run with the Chennai Super Kings and told us who his top-three pairs of brother are in IPL 2013.
Leaving the last game against KKR aside, the batting hasn’t quite packed the punch. What’s the reason?
We’re just not taking responsibility of our wickets. When you’re four down with four overs to go, you think you’ll post a big score but we keep getting out in poor ways. We’ve really got to learn and rectify that problem straight away, or it’s going to be a very long tournament for us.
Something that was visible today as well, the batsmen who are getting the starts are not batting on for long. Is there a talk in the dressing room over that?
Yes, there is a bit of a talk. No batsman from our team has yet scored a fifty and we have to change that very soon. We have the batsmen to do that. The way Adam Gilchrist batted today I thought he’s going to be one of our better batsmen going forward in the tournament.
You’ve scored a couple of 40s, Gilchrist has hit a bit of form too. Is it time for the two of you to lead from the front?
Yes, it is. We really need to get those big 50s and 70s and give our bowlers a decent total to bowl to. The bowlers have been fantastic and now it’s up to the batsmen to put their hands up.
Are you the fielding captain of the team?
Yes, I am. I am the captain in the field and it’s my responsibility to get the best fielders in the right positions. It’s up to the bowlers to bowl whatever they want to and it’s then our job to create an atmosphere and cause a few run-outs.
Of the two Hussey brothers David is considered as a T20 master and Michael has always been a Test specialist. But he’s catching up with you well?
He’s a fantastic cricketer in all three formats. I watched him last night play against Delhi Daredevils (where he scored a 50-ball 65) and he batted superbly. I hope he keeps doing well but CSK keep losing games. That would be nice.
Which pair of brothers is the best this IPL? Don’t be modest, be honest.
I’ll give you my top three. No.3 the Marsh brothers, No.2 the Morkel brothers and No.1 the McCullum brothers. I think they’re the benchmark.