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Although they came into the match against the Delhi Daredevils with a hard fought, nerve wracking win,Kings XI Punjabhad yet to win back to back games in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. But, ahead of the match coach Darren Lehamann had said that they hoped to make it two in two at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
And although he did not reveal them, he had mentioned that they had plans for sending back the dangerous Delhi Daredevils opener Virender Sehwagwho had won the hosts their previous game. The coach’s wards executed their plans to a nicety and set up a second consecutive victory by restricting DD to 120 runs and importantly sent back the dangerous Sehwag early.
The bowler in the spotlight who claimed the prized wicket of Sehwag was Harmeet Singh Bansal. Back on the field after almost a year, his last match was at the same venue against the same opposition in May 15, 2012, the pacer put in a match winning performance. The 25-year old finished with three for 24 in his quota of four overs.
Holding his nerve he removed the important cog in the DD line-up. Speaking about the plan to get Sehwag’s wicket he told iplt20.com, “Our plan was not to give width to Viru bhai and bowl stump to stump and that’s what we did and that was what caused him a bit of problem I think.”
Elaborating on the plans for removing the DD opener, David Hussey added, “The plan was just to bowl in the good areas. Everybody knows he is one of the best players in the world. Today he hit some of the most amazing shots you will see and we were just lucky to get him out for 20-odd runs.”
Speaking about the nerves and preparation ahead of the game, Harmeet said, “I was told in the morning by the team management to be ready to play. So I was ready and felt that I might get a game and then when we came to the ground they confirmed it. I was focusing since morning. I was a bit nervous because when Viru bhai (Virender Sehwag) is in front of you, one will be nervous and especially because of the innings that he played in the last match scoring 95 runs. Seeing that knock anyone would be nervous. But it was important for me to read the wicket. It was a double paced wicket so I bowled accordingly to Viru bhai.”
But, did they expect to restrict the star studded Daredevils line-up to 120 odd runs? Harmeet said, “We saw in the beginning, the wicket was bit double paced, the ball was stopping and coming on and we bowled a little quick in between too. So it becomes a bit difficult for the batsmen to score runs. We were thinking that if we could restrict them to 120-130 runs it would be good and obviously Viru bhai’s wicket was very important so I think because of that too we could contain them.”
Having bided his time, the youngster was keen to get a day in the field and hoped to make it count. “I was a little frustrated that I wasn’t getting matches. I had sat out for six matches so I was waiting to get an opportunity to get a game. I was always ready to play when I got the chance. And today when I got it I delivered well,” he said.
The senior cricketer were full of praise for the pacer. Lauding Harmeet’s performance, Hussey said, “He was superb. Hardly missed a beat with the training and to get the Man-of-the-Match in your first game back is pretty sensational.”
The team drew confidence from their previous win but did take a fresh guard against DD. Speaking about the boost Hussey said, “Always when you have had a close fought win, a very high scoring win, it gives your team a lot of confidence. The way our bowlers bounced back after the last game, it was just sensational tonight and hopefully we can keep the winning momentum going.”
Harmeet said, “Yes ofcourse it helps. We have won two in two so the confidence is really high and will now be looking forward and working towards the next game. But when we came out to play today we had forgotten about the previous match because every game is different and the wicket here is different from Mohali.”
“When we go from here for the next game we have to put this behind after celebrating the win and focus on the next match.”
The team has found their footing and will be looking forward to carry the momentum ahead. The seniors and the captain have played a vital role in regrouping and binding the team together. Crediting his captain, Harmeet said, “He (Adam Gilchrist) is the kind of captain who will even motivate a player who is very low. He is a very good captain during the match and off the field as well. He tells us what to do. His experience obviously helps.”
Hussey added, “Gilly is leading so well on the field, he is tactically very, very smart. He brings everybody together.”
Speaking about his own role, Hussey who stood in as captain in a few matches last year said, “I am sort of a fielding captain. I bowl a couple of overs, sneak in couple actually and bring the over rate down and hopefully score a few runs in the middle as well. All our batters are firing at the moment and hopefully that continues.”
Delhi Daredevils’ batting woes returned to haunt them as the line-up once again failed to put up a competitive score on the board. Restricted to 120 for the loss of seven wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla by the Kings XI Punjab, the home team underwent their seventh loss in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 off eight games.
Although, batting lower down the order, David Warnerscored a 36-ball 40, he did not get enough support from the other end. It turned out an uphill task for the bowling attack to defend a below par total, especially after Mandeep Singh and Luke Pomersbach gleaned 33 runs from the second and the third over.
Johan Botha who along with fellow South African Roelof van der Merwe was the more economical of the DD bowlers spoke to iplt20.com after the game. While analysing the loss and the off-spinner also said that with eight matches still to be played the role of the seniors would be to lift the team up.
Excerpts from the interview:
On the loss?
Obviously we didn’t bat well enough again and that’s there for everyone to see and that’s where we were 20-25 runs short and that mattered in the end.
On the batting not clicking again?
I think in twenty20 cricket you have to keep playing your shots, you cannot just try and defend (while batting), you have to go out and play. Against the Mumbai Indians it worked for us but tonight it did not. You can’t go into a shell. That is what Mahela (Jayawardene) and the coaches have been telling the players. You cannot just stop playing and you have to get runs. Runs win you games, unfortunately at the moment we are probably finding the fielders and making silly mistakes at crucial times.
On the strategy to send David Warner lower down the order?
We have obviously got power at the top with Mahela and Viru (Virender Sehwag) who played really well the other day (against MI). We just want to space it out a little bit I think. In the previous two games we had the young Indian players in the middle-order and we just needed some more experience. Davy played really well but the middle-order and the lower-order didn’t really support him so. I think it is the right decision. On bowling with fellow South African Roelof van der Merwe?
It was great again to play with him. I have missed him. He has obviously been a very passionate player and I have missed that. In the last bit of my career he was not in the team and we have played for a while together in the middle parts of our careers. I have always really enjoyed playing with him he always gives hundred percent and that’s the way I like to play and he is just a great guy to play with.
South African spinners bowling at the Kotla?
It was good. We saw from their innings that the wicket was a bit slow and the seamers bowled straight. It worked pretty well for us as we didn’t have enough runs so they didn’t have to take us on. If we had enough runs, we might have gone for a few more runs but probably got a few more wickets. So hopefully if we get to play together again in the next few games we can do the job for the skipper.
On whether the role of the senior and experienced players in the team now is more crucial?
It is not always about the bat and ball. Now it is about staying strong in the group and picking the guys up around you and taking care of the young Indians guys who probably haven’t been in this situation before. And just to keep lifting your run in the group, we know that we won’t play every game, but when you are in the side and not playing, you got to support the guys who are on the field as much as you can.
On the advice from Sir Viv Richards?
He has been telling us to keep backing us in the team. We have gotten ourselves into this position and can’t just sit back and say, oh that’s the tournament done. We still have to have the belief that we can win five, six or seven in a row and still be in the competition. That’s been the message that the coaches have been telling us. But unfortunately we have just been making those silly mistakes.
On influence of Mushtaq Ahmed on his spin bowling?
Mushy has been good, obviously he has worked with a great off-spinner, Graeme Swann in England so there are a few small things that Mushy has told me. And he has been great not just for me, but for the group he has been a very positive person. He is a great influence around anyone and he is always so calm which is great and I think it is a big thing to have Mushy in the team, not just for spin bowling.