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Picture this. A 186 runs to win, the home side is three down for 58 with another 128 runs to get in close to 13 overs. At one end, you have a young 21-year-old Indian batsman, giving his every drop of sweat to try and take his side home; while on the other side you have a 23 year old South African walking out to bat in front of a packed house under testing circumstances. And what do they do, they stitch together a match winning partnership to get the whole stadium up on their feet.
Mandeep Singh and David Miller might be young, but they showed how mature they were towards the approach of a mammoth run chase. A six off the second last ball from David Miller sealed the match for Kings XI Punjab as the team ran in jubilation to the centre of the pitch to greet their heroes with a sense of pride. The match winners were excited to talk about their thrilling win after their match to IPLT20.com. In this interview, Mandeep and Miller take us through the tension, the emotions and drama as the match went on till the last over.
Miller, is this the most thrilling match you have been a part of in your career?
Yes indeed. I have been a part of a few good games, but this one ranks right up there because the situations went up and down. Sometimes they were at advantage and sometimes we put them under pressure, so yes this has to go down as one of the most thrilling and exciting encounters I have been a part of.
Mandeep, was there a lot of pressure on you when you saw your captain get out in the first over?
It was tough to lose Adam Gilchrist in the first over. But the situation of the game was such that you had to play freely. When you are chasing a target of 180, you cannot block and take your time to get set, especially after you had lost two big wickets up front. I just had to play normal cricket.
What was the talk between you two during the run chase?
Miller: I said to Mandy, we just need to watch the ball well in the last over and really try our best. I wasn’t really thinking much to be honest, I had a few plans field wise, but other than that I just tried to clear the ball that came my way.
Mandeep:When David came in, we were just targeting one boundary an over. We had to run hard between the wickets since the boundaries were deep and it was difficult to get two or three boundaries in an over. The plan was to keep the board ticking at a good rate.
Did you both back yourself for a win when you needed 16 off the last over?
Miller: We did a really great job by taking the game to the last over. We were backing ourselves and went into the thought that, if we lost we had just lost a game of cricket. We had a chance of winning or losing and I am glad we came out winning at the end of it.
Mandeep: I think our plan was set when we needed close to 38 runs in the last three overs and we had a talk at that time. We decided we needed three big hits in every over; and if we were successful in doing that, we will cross the line.
How do you handle pressure during big run chases?
Miller: A cricket game is all about a little bit of pressure and handling that pressure, especially with a huge crowd and this (the IPL) being a high intensity tournament. But I have been through some pressure situations myself in the past, so it was fine.
Mandeep:I think it depends on the individual how he handles pressure. I have been playing the IPL for quite some time now and I am quite used to pressure now. But still, you have to overcome that pressure and try and make sure you come out winning.
David, what do you have to say about young Mandeep’s knock?
It was an unbelievable knock by Mandeep. His innings was phenomenal. He has shown some great performances in the last year as well and even this year he has been good for the Kings XI. He is a star for the future. He has a good mind, wants to do well and I am really happy for him.
Mandeep, what is the biggest positive you take from this game?
I have been working on my game over the past three years. I have worked in a way that I prepare myself to bat till the end and take my side home when need be. Today, I was there till the end and am glad I was there to see the side home along with Miller.
The last time Rohit Sharma played against the Delhi Daredevils he had scored just one run more that he did on April 21 and had finished on the winning side. However, in the second clash between Mumbai Indians and DD, he ended up on the losing side despite a glorious 43-ball 73-run knock, studded with five boundaries and as many sixes.
Playing at the Feroz Shah Kotla, MI’s No 4 bat, took the attack to the Daredevils bowlers after Ricky Pontingopted to bat first. Coming in at 22 for the loss of two wickets he was involved in a superb 96-run partnership with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar as the duo clobbered the opposition all round the park.
Although Tendulkar was the first to hit the ball over the ropes, the youngster dispatched the ball out of the park with panache.
Although he was awarded the maximum sixes award, Sharma would have gladly traded it for a win as he told iplt20.com after the loss.
“That (award) doesn’t really matter unless you win the game. I would have preferred winning the game over it (but) anyway we cannot get disheartened because it is just one bad game and we will look forward to putting some good performance in the coming games.”
Despite losing a couple of early wicket, his knock and partnership with Sachin Tendulkar helped the MI post a competitive target for the Daredevils. However it wasn’t enough with Mahela Jayawardene holding up one end after promoting himself up the order while Virender Sehwag took the attack to the MI bowlers.
Reflecting on the game, Sharma said, “We didn’t start well and Delhi has been known for the big scores (in the past) so though I am not sure, anywhere around 170 / 160 was a good score here. I thought we were 10-15 runs short. But you cannot look back ... 161 is still a good score to defend I think.
They started off really well, we wanted to get early wickets which we always spoke about but we didn’t get that and that was the game changing point I feel.”
Although the visitor’s were a few runs short, the crowd at Kotla witnessed one of the best batting fests in the season so far. Apart from Sharma’s sparkling innings, they saw the master score a 47-ball 54 and then were entertained by Virender Sehwag’s 95 off 57 not out along with Mahela Jayawardene’s solid 43-ball 59-run knock.
Talking of his 96-run stand with Tendulkar, Sharma said, “Batting with Sachin Tendulkar was really great. This is not the first I have batted with him, we have had some good partnerships while playing for India and for Mumbai Indians. So yes, it was great and it has always been great. I am glad that we shared a partnership of more than 50 runs.
Asked about left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson’s absence, who could probably have troubled the batters, Sharma said, “I cannot comment on that because it is really the team management’s and captain who decides about who will play. If they felt they wanted Dwayne Smith up the order then Dwayne Smith it was and Mitchell Johnson was left out. Unfortunately only four overseas players can play so it is pretty difficult and pretty hard on the guys also.”
And with Smith coming into the side, the batting order changed with the captain dropping himself down the order. Speaking about that move, Rohit stated, “I really don’t know. Probably the thought was that we needed a good start up front and (with Dwayne) Smith being a big hitter they promoted him and nothing much (other than that).”