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With just three innings in the IPL so far, young Sanju Vishwanadh has already created waves in the tournament. His maturity at such a young age and his ability to strike the ball cleanly against some of the best in the business has left some labeling him as an India prospect.
But Sanju is not thinking about his future so soon. For starters, he wants to keep things simple. “All I am thinking at the moment is about Rajasthan Royals’ games ahead. I want to make meaningful contributions for the side and help them win,” said the wicket-keeper-batsman, post his team’s eight-wicket loss at the Eden Gardens against theKolkata Knight Riderson Friday.
Sanju, who top-scored with a 36-ball 40 in the Royals’ innings of 132, said that it was a challenging wicket to bat on. “We all know that the Eden wicket is a bit slow. We were ready for the challenge, but it was a bit difficult to bat on. We applied ourselves according to the nature of the wicket. Unfortunately, we lost wickets early on in our innings.”
Sanju said that, on a personal front, he relished playing mystery spinners Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake who posed a different kind of challenge to him. “It was a great experience to face Narine and Senanayake. I was wary of the challenge, and I will play them better the next time I face them. I am fortunate to face a variety of bowlers in the tournament. I have never faced so many types of bowlers and this IPL experience will only help me do well in the future.”
The 40 from Sanju, a run-a-ball 35 from Shane Watson and some late blows from Owais Shah helped RR post 132 on the board, which according to Sanju was a defendable total. “Looking at our bowling attack, a total of 130 or 140 was a good enough total to defend,” Sanju said. “I guess we lost the plot in the Power Play. We should have scored more in that phase of the game. Had we got more runs then, things might have been different,” he added.
When asked if RR would be ruing the fact that their away record was dismal, Sanju was quick to reply, “We are not worried about our away record or dominance at home. We just want to play the right cricket at the right time. We are not worried about the result. What matters is to give your 100 percent on the field.”
Not surprisingly, the youngster has given his 100 percent whenever he has got a chance to perform. His unbeaten 27 against the Kings XI Punjab showed that he had the temperament to chase down totals, while his 63 against RCB showed that he was not afraid to attack some of the best bowling line-ups in the tournament. Sanju credited his success thus far to his captain Rahul Dravid. “I love to attack. I always try to play according to the needs of my team. Rahul Dravid backs me a lot. He is giving me the right advice at the right time. The team management has also backed my abilities, which is the reason why I am able to play freely.”
Regarding rubbing shoulders with some of the big names in cricket, Sanju said that he wanted to make the most of the opportunities he got with RR. “IPL is a big stage, where players get to express themselves. I try to take in as much knowledge as possible from the senior pros in the team. I always ask them about my game and take valuable inputs so that I can improve my game. It is a great opportunity for me to showcase my skills and I want to make the most of it.”
In what possibly could have been the Knight Riders’ final game at the Eden Gardens (given the volatile playoffs scenario), the crowd was given a lot of reason to cheer its heart out for a side, they have supported loyally all these years.
Yusuf Pathan who had his back against the wall, brought up a match-winning knock during the game. Mean while one of KKR’s most dependable players,Jacques Kallis, gave much needed support with bat and the ball, and at the end of it all the Knight Riders recorded a convincing eight wicket-victory against the Rajasthan Royalson Friday.
Satisfied, relieved and laced with smiles, KKR walked off the field hopeful of making it to the business end of the tournament. Ask KKR’s ‘Mr. Dependable’,Jacques Kallis about it and with a calm smile on his face he will say that his side is still alive in the tournament.
In a chat with IPLT20.com Kallis talked about Yusuf’s match winning-knock, his team’s chances in the tournament and his personal attachment with the Knight Riders.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
How satisfying a win is this after a series of losses in the competition?
It is indeed a good win to have under the belt. The pressure was on us to perform and I feel the guys delivered. We spoke about playing smart cricket and we were terrific with both bat and ball. We backed ourselves and I guess it showed on the field today.
When you win just three out of ten games, how difficult is it to comeback and perform?
The guys were always motivated and we have always applied ourselves, but unfortunately we were not winning games. We have not played as bad as people think this season. We just lost a few close games that could have turned our season around, but it is important to do what we are doing at the moment; that is focus on winning games. Who knows, if we still win all our remaining games, the semis are still in our grasp. Our first aim though, is to qualify for the Play Offs and then take it from there.
Your take on Yusuf Pathan’s innings?
Yusuf batted brilliantly. To strike a ball as well as he did on a wicket like that is commendable. That is the reason why Pathan is so important in our squad. It is good to see that he has got his confidence back towards the end of the season; probably the perfect timing for us and hope he helps us to win a few more games.
When a match winner like Yusuf underperforms, how does the team motivate him to do well?
Yusuf has always backed himself and practiced hard. He covers his basis and obviously the way he plays he might not be as consistent like the few other guys, but that is the kind of role that Yusuf has in the team. He has to play freely like he did and I have no doubts that he will take a lot of confidence from this knock.
You have seen the game changing and evolving, how difficult is it for you to change your game with changing formats?
I feel it is pretty easy. We change formats so often these days, it is just a matter of adapting and then changing your mindset. It is just a matter of getting two or three practices sessions for me to get into the mode of that particular format.
Close to two decades for you in the game now, how do you keep yourself fit?
(Laughs) You know I have put in the hard work. I have tried my best to get myself fit and stay fit. I have been fortunate that I have not had too many injuries in my career. I also feel lucky that I have got a body type which is quite supple as well. It is all about putting the hard work behind the scenes.
Your all round capabilities are much valued by KKR, is it fair to call you KKR’s Mr. Dependable?
I do not know about that, but I think there are plenty of match winners in the team. I am just fortunate that I am able to contribute with both bat and ball. I enjoy doing both of them and as long as I can continue to do both of them for KKR, I will be a happy man.
How close are you to the KKR franchise?
I am very attached to the Kolkata Knight Riders. You know, winning the tournament last year has been one of the highlights of my career. I have got special memories with the team and have a fantastic family here. I have enjoyed every minute here and it will be nice if we can get into the semis and try and win back to back trophies. It is everyone’s target in the team and one of my targets too.