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Into his first season of the IPL and Mitchell Johnson has quietly made his mark. Although not rampaging into sides and storming into the competition for the Purple Cap, Johnson has been the most effective pacer for the Mumbai Indians – a big achievement when your fellow fast bowler is one named Lasith Malinga.
The Australian left-arm pacer has shown his class and control consistently in the tournament, not least when bowling to Chris Gayle immediately after the West Indian had blasted 175 against PWI. Johnson bowled 11 balls to him for 16 runs. The pressure led to Gayle’s cheap dismissal and MI’s win over RCB.
We, at iplt20.com caught up with Johnson to find answers that bowlers over the world are looking for – how to get Gayle out. Johnson also spoke about the technicalities that have helped him succeed this IPL.
This is your first IPL and you seemed to have adapted quite smoothly?
This being my first IPL season, the excitement and enjoyment that I am getting out of it has been great. Shane Watson always talked it up and I often chat with him about how it is like to play in the IPL. Now to get the opportunity and that too in Mumbai, which has the best of conditions for a pacer, has been brilliant.
Technically, what has been the key for you to bowl here?
I like to use the cutters but I also use the short ball quite often. Using the short ball on wickets like this (the Wankhede Stadium) at a quicker pace is very important and so are the change-ups. But in saying that, you have to vary the ploy depending on each batsman.
Are you also bowling with a slightly higher arm than normal?
Yes, probably a little bit. I’m always going to be a slingy bowler; I’m never going to be quite as tall as a Glenn McGrath. I had seven months away from the game and I just missed out coming to the IPL in the last season because of my toe injury. Post injury, I was able to work a bit on the technical things. I’ve had a bit of time in India during the Test series as well. The arm has been slightly higher but in the end my action will always be a bit slingy, which is the way I like it.
Is one of the perks of playing for MI the fact that in most games you bowl on a wicket that offers a bit of swing early on and bounce?
Yes, there has been a bit of swing around for me in most games here. That definitely helps in creating doubt in the batsman’s mind. Anyone who can swing the ball at 140-kph mark is difficult to deal with. It’s nice to get bowling friendly conditions. I know it’s not always going to be like that but at home it’s been very good.
That spell you bowled to Chris Gayle in the home game against RCB was one of the better contests we’ve seen this season. What was the plan bowling to him?
He was coming after a top score (175 against Pune Warriors India). We planned on bowling short to him, especially on a nice, quick wicket like this one. We wanted to unsettle him and it seemed to work. We got him moving around in the crease which he doesn’t like to do. You never know if a ploy would work on a day in T20 cricket but it worked at that time. We did it as a team. (Lasith) Malinga bowled very well to him as well and we tied him up early on.
Who would you rather bowl to – Gayle or Mike Hussey?
That’s a very tough question. Mike Hussey plays very classical and correct cricket shots whereas Chris goes for power and hits it a very long way. I’d rather not bowl to any of them at their best. But it’s always good bowling to old team mates. Having played with Mike, it was a little bit strange playing against him in Chennai but I really enjoyed bowling to him. He’s such a world-class player in every format and just for the challenge of bowling to a former team mate, I’d love to bowl to him again, and hopefully get his wicket too.
What do you think is a more effective tool in the death overs – a yorker or a wide full-toss?
It depends on individual batsmen. You’ve really got to do your homework on players. I think if you can bowl a very good yorker, it’s pretty hard to hit. On our Mumbai ground, the square is quite long and so it’s quite hard to hit a good short ball there. It really does come down to the conditions, grounds and players. But if you can bowl the Malinga yorkers, you’ll do pretty well to stick to them.
How’s it been bowling with Malinga?
I first bowled with him at the 2012 CLT20 but we didn’t get much time together then. So, bowling with him in this IPL has been really exciting for me. He’s one of the best T20 bowlers going around, using his yorkers and slower ones. It’s actually been very good playing with him and not worrying about him bowling to me. We have been able to learn from each other and give advice to each other. I was excited at the prospect of bowling with him when I got signed up by MI. We have been bowling really well as a pair and hopefully we can continue throughout the tournament.
4: Number of fifties scored by Rohit Sharma in IPL 2013 – most by any batsman, along with Chennai Super Kings’ Michael Hussey.
9: Number of batsmen who got out caught in Kings XI Punjab’s innings – second such instance in IPL 2013. Interestingly the earlier instance was also for Kings XI Punjab- vs Chennai Super Kings at Mohali.
19: Number of fifties scored by Rohit Sharma in IPL – most by any batsman along with Gautam Gambhir who also has 19.
19: Number of overs for which Kings XI Punjab were ahead of Mumbai Indians. It was 20th over that made all the difference. While Mumbai Indians scored 27 runs off their last over, Kings XI Punjab could get only 12.
23: Number of sixes hit by Rohit Sharma in IPL 2013 – second most by any batsman, after Chris Gayle (36).
28: Number of balls taken by Rohit Sharma to reach his fifty – fastest by a Mumbai Indians batsman in IPL 2013.
100: Percent- Mumbai Indians’ win record at Wankhede in IPL 2013 – four out of four.
105: Number of sixes hit by Rohit Sharma in IPL- second most by any batsmen after Chris Gayle (165).
628: Runs scored by Rohit Sharma in IPL matches at Wankhede – most by any batsman. He went ahead of Sachin Tendulkar’s tally of 625 runs.
5020: Runs scored by David Hussey in Twenty20 matches. He became only the third batsman to go past 5000 runs after Brad Hodge (5443) and Chris Gayle (5288).