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TheKolkata Knight Riders came into IPL 2013 wearing the tag of defending champions. Now, 12 games into the tournament, they are languishing at a lowly No.7 on the points table. Even after getting themselves into a situation where they have to win every match to have a chance of getting into the top four, the KKR team couldn’t find their fire and lost to the Mumbai Indians by 65 runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday night.
After the match, a visibly dejected Lakshmipathy Balaji spoke to iplt20.com on coping with the tough phase. He also talked about his bowling figures of 3-1-7-0 even asSachin Tendulkar led the rampage for MI to a 170-run total.
Three overs for seven runs against the MI batting line-up – does a bowling performance like this at times feel better than the wickets?
Wickets are very important in T20. The extension of picking wickets is bowling dot balls and creating pressure. It is crucial to get the early breakthroughs. Even if you bowl three maidens they will catch up later on in the game. But wickets will peg them back. I was trying to get wickets as well but it didn’t happen. It was good to bowl tight though.
Do you go with a separate plan for every batsman or stick to a uniform strategy?
There’s a bit of individual planning depending on whether the batsman is good on off-side or leg-side. What his release shot is and where he normally gets out – is it for the in-dipper or the away going ball? You just try to put the batsmen in a situation he is not comfortable in. But at the end of the day, a good length is good length and it’s not going to change depending on the format or the batsman.
How has Brett Lee taken to the mentoring role?
I have shared various experiences with Brett Lee since 2011. We’ve shared the new ball, bowled in tandem. Bowling with a leading international bowler like him is a dream. When he becomes your mentor it’s an added advantage. It’s not only about what you do during the match but also how you prepare for it and think about your game off the field matters. He’s one of the greatest mentors we could get.
What has gone wrong with KKR this season?
We were one of the teams to look forward to, given what we had achieved in the last two seasons. We haven’t lived up to that promise despite having so much potential in the dressing room. I believe the main reason is that we haven’t combined different aspects of the game well. It’s either our bowling that clicks or the batting. We haven’t been able to do well in both departments at the same game. We still have four more games to go and we will give our 100 per cent to them.
Is too much desperation to win doing you in?
We don’t play our cricket with desperation and always enjoy our cricket. We enjoy each other’s success and stand by each other in times of failures. That is a good thing to have in a team. This quality has taken us to the heights that we achieved in the first two seasons.
One of the most high-profile teams in the IPL, Mumbai Indians have always been the bridesmaid. They have often made people wonder how a team with such glorious ilk has never managed to take home the IPL silverware.
Ahead of the 2013 season, the MI management saw a few big changes, including the arrival of coach, John Wright, mentor, Anil Kumble and captain, Ricky Ponting. The mentors have brought in their tremendous experience of illuminating international careers to put the team on the brink of Play-Offs qualification.
However, according to MI’s prolific batsman, Dinesh Karthik, the biggest reason behind the team’s consistency this season – eight wins from 12 games – is Ponting. Although not playing for the last few games to better the balance of the team, Ponting’s presence has brought the much needed positive approach and belief into the dressing room.
Karthik told iplt20.com:
In terms of consistency is this the best season that MI are having?
Yes. I have been with the team for two years and this season has been far better than last year.
What’s the biggest reason for your success this season?
It’s just the mental aspect that I have been working on in particular. I try to be as calm and consistent as possible. I have worked on my batting in terms of playing the attacking shots. It also comes with confidence, with more time I spend at the crease.
Does the presence of some big names in the line-up help you play with freedom?
Yes, when you know there are some big hitting batsmen in the middle-order who can tonk the ball a mile, your role gets easier because you just try and get them on strike. When they are not around, you have the license to hit the big ones as well.
How has Ricky Ponting’s presence in the camp made a difference?
He is the biggest thing to have happened to Mumbai Indians. He has this aura about him and he brings in a lot of positive energy in the team. Some of the things that he says in team meetings and some of the points he brings to the fore is really hair-raising. People don’t know about many things happen at the back-end but there’s a lot that happens behind closed doors. He is the key reason for us to be so positive and motivated.
What was the first advice he gave you on your batting?
The other day I had a doubt and I walked up to him. All he said was that if you see the ball and think you can hit it, you hit it. That, I thought was a very positive input and the one I really liked.
Have you been facing Anil Kumble in the nets?
I have a couple of times. Even when he does not bowl he is very serious about his game.
Do you face a lot of Lasith Malinga in the nets, particularly to practice digging out the Yorkers?
Definitely, a bit; I wouldn’t say a lot. He’s somebody who doesn’t bowl a lot in the nets because he likes to preserve his energy and keep it for the match. He bowls a bit every day and sometimes I am lucky to get to face him.
Do you believe your performance in this IPL will help give your international career a second wind?
I’d like to think so. When you play in the IPL you face a lot of good quality bowlers and doing well here has improved my confidence.