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The Pune Warriors India made as many as four changes to their squad against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. An innovation from the PWI side as regular captain Angelo Mathews made way for Aaron Finch to lead on his behalf, even as the other foreign players included the likes of mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis, Luke Wright and the electric Steve Smith.
When Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh were going hammer and tongs on a super Sunday at the PCA stadium in Mohali, Luke Wright who had finally got a chance to feature in the playing XI was sitting in the dugout waiting for his chance to go and get a hit in the middle.
His chance came in the eighteenth over as Yuvraj walked back to the pavilion playing a stroke filled innings of 34 from 24 balls. Little did Luke Wright know that he would score exactly the same number of runs as Yuvraj did; in far less number of deliveries though!
Wright came in like lightening and rumbled like thunder in his 11 minute stay at the crease. The all-rounder did feel gutted that his team had to suffer yet another close loss, but took time for a chat with IPLT20.com.
Would you like to look at the positives despite the team’s loss?
You never feel like there are any positives once you lose the game. Obviously you are disappointed, but yes, we managed to get ourselves to a good score on a very good wicket, but sometimes you have to say, hats off to two players and obviously Miller who played brilliantly.
How was it to bowl such a crucial last over of the match?
Of course there was a lot of pressure when I had to bowl the last over. I am not an out an out bowler, I just bowl a bit sometimes, so obviously there was pressure there. It was a situation I am not used to being in so often, but it was a shame I couldn’t defend the total off the last over. And again, credit to Miller, who played well. But your batting came good, 34 in 10 balls are great numbers.
It was a delight to bat out there and it was great to get some quick runs on the board. But obviously the loss has taken the shine off the knock and by me giving away the runs in the last over. But in terms of batting, that has been my main strength and I am very pleased with it.
Were you eager to go out there and bat especially when had got a game after long?
Once I saw Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh going well on that wicket, I wanted to get out there and get a hit in the middle. But when they both were scoring well and getting the runs on the board, I was not that desperate to go out there. But I am happy that when I got a chance, my batting came out well.
What was the message given to you by the team when you walked in to bat?
I was just told to try and get as many as I could in the rest of the overs. It was a great wicket to bat on and I do not think 160 would have been enough. We needed a 180 plus score and we got that.
How difficult is it to perform after getting just a few matches up your sleeve?
It is very difficult to play immediately after being on the bench for long. I did not get many chances last year and it had been a while till I got an opportunity this year as well. It was nice to get off with a very good start with the bat. But, when you go in with two or three overs left, you just cannot think about those things. You are going to swing the bat to everything; and some days you can connect well, at times you could chip one straight up in the air and get caught, but when it comes off it is a bit of a lottery.
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.