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He is well known for his 12-ball 29 in a thrilling run chase against the Deccan Chargers for KXIP’s four-wicket victory in the IPL last year. This year he shot into the limelight with an outstanding catch at fine leg to dismiss Ross Taylor in the initial stages of the tournament, wherein he was the photographer’s delight.
With nerves of steel, hunger for runs and eagerness to succeed, Gurkeerat Singh is among the fresh crop of domestic players who is grabbing the attention of all the right eye-balls. He might not have the best of numbers in the IPL this year, but the 22-year-old middle order batsman is known to make useful contributions towards the end of the innings and give his side momentum.
Against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday, he chipped in with a quick-fire 28 off 15 balls towards the fag end of the innings, which helped Kings XI get to a respectable total of 149. In this chat with IPLT20.com, Gurkeerat talks about the influence of Adam Gilchrist to a young side, the fielding standards of the Kings XI Punjab and Yuvraj Singh’s bat that he believes helped him get the runs.
You got severe in the end of the innings against KKR, what was your approach to the game in the death overs?
I came to bat when there were just five overs left. I started the innings trying to get my eye in. But once I got my eye in, there was no looking back. In the last over as well, you have no option but to hit out. I had confidence in me to go for my shots and I was sure they would come off well. I knew this was the over to cash in, because in the previous over Sunil Narine gave away just two. We had no options but to attack L Balaji and I was glad we could get 18 off him in the end.
Talking about Narine, is he a major name discussed in team meetings?
Not really, but we do plan to play the bowlers according to their merit. I think the best option is to play safe against Narine. If you are not able to read him, it is better that you take singles against him instead of giving away your wicket. We just wanted to see Narine off and give him no wickets, because he gets more confident when he takes wickets.
How difficult is it to score right from the word go?
Whatever be the situation, you have to take some time to settle down. I always try to get my eye in first, try to work my innings by taking singles and doubles in the initial stages of my batting. Once my eye is set, I just go for the kill and try to score as freely as possible.
Did you think you could defend 150?
We had discussed before entering the field that we will not relax for one moment. May it be 60 for no loss or 20 for 3, we decided that we will not let go off the game at any time of the game. We had them under pressure by taking two quick wickets in the run chase. But Bisla, Kallis and Morgan played well to take KKR home.
Two crucial catches dropped? Do you think they were the turning points of the game? How crucial is fielding in T20s?
Holding on to catches is really crucial, but you cannot help it when catches are dropped. No one does it on purpose. Sometimes they stick, sometimes they do not. Had we held on two those two dropped chances off Manvinder Bisla and Eoin Morgan, the outcome could have been different. Having said that, there is a lot of effort that goes into fielding. Fielding is one of the main aspects of T20s, and we spend a lot of time in practice sessions on fielding. We have been a good fielding side, just that today there were a few lapses.
What are the positives you take from this game?
I think we did reasonably well by getting 149 on the board. The confidence will not drop with this loss. We have not been having a good opening partnership and it was a good sign to see that aspect of the game doing well in this game. We also scored well in the end of the innings.
Kings XI Punjab rely a lot on domestic talent, what are these players learning from the IPL experience?
It is always a big opportunity for domestic players to perform and we are thankful to the Kings XI Punjab management who trust our abilities. We will prove ourselves in the opportunities we get. Experienced players like Adam Gilchrist, David Hussey and Azhar Mahmood give us a lot of confidence. We all have done well in domestic cricket and we know how to tackle situations. The experienced players tell us how to tackle tough situations better and I believe we have been doing well in that aspect which has helped us not just in the IPL, but also while playing domestic cricket.
Who is one cricketer you admire the most?
I admire Yuvraj Singh. He is my favorite player. He speaks a lot to me about my game. In the last game too, he told me what areas to work on and how to go about my batting in different situations. He gave me a bat in the last game and Friday, I played with his bat. Thankfully I kept the reputation of hitting sixes with that (Smiles).
A diminutive figure behind the stumps, Parthiv Patel is effective in front of the woodwork as well. The 28-year old left-hand batsman who can blunt attacks without appearing as destructive as some others shares space with yet another wicketkeeper and left-hand bat, captain Kumar Sangakkarawith whom he has had a few chats on glovework.
A hardworking cricketer, Patel has been endeavoring to do his when opportunities are presented to him and has enjoyed keeping to some of the best in the business, thanks to the Indian Premier League.
In a brief interview with iplt20.com in Jaipur, Patel shared his experiences while discussing his wicket-keeping and batting. And while speaking about keeping to Sunrisers Hyderabad team-mate Dale Steyn amongst others he also said that he cherished keeping to the legendaryMuttiah Muralitharan the most.
A senior cricketer, Patel who led his state team, Gujarat to victory in the domestic T20 tournament, Syed Mushtaq Ali ahead of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 also lauded the efforts of promising youngsters in the Sunrisers side, Hanuma Vihari and Ashish Reddy.
Excerpts from the interview:
On his technique and fitness
I really work on my wicket-keeping skills. I put in a lot of effort like going down the leg side stuff and taking a lot of nicks and stuff. That is probably the reason I think I am getting results on the ground. And I am someone who likes to do a lot of skill work in my practice sessions and I make sure that I put in a lot of effort.
Fitness makes a huge difference. I follow the NCA’s (National Cricket Academy) fitness regime which the trainers have been giving us, and plus on the keeping side the drills that I keep doing. So that makes the difference as well. And on your game, if you practice hard things get taken care of by themselves. So that is where I put in effort.
On keeping to Dale Steyn
It is a great experience. He is one of the best bowlers in the world. It is a great experience to keep against him. To bowl with so much of pace and to be able to swing the ball I think is incredible and keeping to him makes it a bit easier because you know he bowls a good out-swinger, the ball is going to carry and that makes it a bit easier. It is a great honour to keep to someone like him.
On whether he has kept to Waqar Younis in the nets and what it felt like
No I haven’t. He just bowled on Thursday before the game against CSK started. He bowled a few balls but yes it is always great to have someone like him around.
On having a good run coming into the IPL but not being able to score big so far and the areas he has been working on to turn things around
I think the question has an answer I have been batting well and I just need to convert them into bigger knocks. I think I am batting well, I am getting 20s and 30s it is just a matter of time before I hit it big.
On what he enjoys most - batting or wicket-keeping
Both! I have always said that I am wicketkeeper-batsman and I enjoy wicket-keeping too. It is a tough job and I feel that if you don’t enjoy it, then it gets to you. So wicket-keeping is something that I enjoy. Obviously batting is very important so when I am keeping I think I am a proper keeper and when I go to bat I think as if I am pure batsman in the side, that’s how I look at it.
On his batting and timing the shots to clear the field
That’s what my game is all about, I am not really strong like Chris Gayle or someone like Dhoni who can power hit the ball. My game is all about timing. The day when I am timing the ball that is when I get runs and that’s where I get the power as well. I work on my technique.
On the kind of exchanges has had with captain Kumar Sangakkara regarding wicket-keeping
I had a few words with him last year, haven’t had big chat this year but last year I had a good chat with him about keeping and how to prepare and other things so that has actually helped me.
On his journey so far, not reaching the peaks expected after an early start to his career
That is something which is part of the game. You have your good days and you have your bad days and unfortunately I didn’t perform as well as I would have actually. And obviously with Dhoni around it becomes a tough job to break into the Indian side. But as a player what I could do is keep working hard, keep performing and hopefully get rewarded.
On his most difficult or challenging dismissal in IPL so far
There have been quite a few. The first year when I was keeping to Muttiah Muralitharan it was a bit difficult. I have kept to Anil Kumble to Harbhajan (Singh) but keeping to Muralitharan was something special for me and I did have a good success ratio with him as well. After that, obviously keeping to Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma. This year he has been bowling really well so there have been quite a few bowlers that I have enjoyed keeping to.
On one dismissal that stands out
The stumping down the leg-side this year of Yuvraj (Singh) off Amit Mishra, I think that is something which is very fresh.
On having worked with different franchises- how he finds Sunrisers?
I think it is a great set-up. The owners are quite down to earth and they let us play. For us the important thing is that the player gets their space to perform and that is very important and that is exactly what has been provided to us. It has only been one month and so far we have enjoyed playing and the kind of atmosphere we have been put into, I think it is great.
On the promising youngsters in the team
They are pretty talented and that is the reason that they are playing at this level, competing against best. Hanuma Vihari has had a good season so far, Ashish Reddy is one who I think can be very good finisher in one day cricket. So there are quite a few players who can make it big I guess.
On opening with Akshath Reddy
It is a bit different when you are used to opening with Brendon McCullum or Mathew Hayden or someone else. But, I think he is a youngster and had a good domestic season and he will play well again.
On the Sunrisers team and turning things around this season
I think it is a great atmosphere that has been created by the coaches around us that has made a huge difference. We have been confident and they have given us a lot of confidence. That is the reason why we have been winning a lot of close games.