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When one talks about the best finishers in IPL 2013, besides the usual suspects, a new name makes an entry. And like most good finishers, the impressive factor about him is that he is equally adept at pacing his innings to the ‘T’ when coming up the order.
Based on the performances this IPL, David Miller can surely be placed in the class ofMS Dhoni and AB de Villiers when it comes to versatility. If his 101* off 38 balls against RCB told us anything about the 23-year-old South African, it was that he is a marathon runner and not a slog-a-thon freak. The straight hits, proper technique and the ability to build his innings before going for the stands – it was all an indication that Miller is capable of playing in multiple gears, just like Dhoni and de Villiers.
It should hence, come as no surprise that Miller started out as a top-order batsman and was moulded in the middle-order role since he started playing professional cricket. That’s when he developed his big-hitting, to cater to the slog-overs’ needs. But as he says, “I like to see myself as batsman and not a slogger. It’s something I take pride in”.
In a chat with iplt20.com, Miller spoke of his transition from an anchor to a finisher and how Lance Klusener helped him on the way.
Do you see this IPL season as the turning point of your career?
Yes, definitely. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to play for the franchise. For me personally, I’ve really enjoyed batting on the Indian wickets. It’s a very different experience from what I’ve had back home in South Africa and you learn so much along the way. In 2011 I didn’t get a game and the last year I only got six games. In IPL only four overseas players can play at a time.
Have you always fancied striking the ball big or is it something you developed along the way?
I think I’ve developed that along the way. Growing up I used to bat a lot higher up the order and so had to get through the new ball. Now that I’ve gone down into the middle-order, I’ve had to develop the stroke-play to adapt to the role.
An important aspect of batting in the middle-order is finishing games. How did you develop that aspect of your game?
I’ve been fortunate to have Lance Klusener as my coach since the last season and he has played an immense part in nurturing the finishing aspect of batting. He’s just helped me a lot with my confidence. Also, as I have been playing professional cricket I have learnt a lot from the ex-players, trying to gather all the information and using it in my game. While chasing, there are these couple of things that I do.
I’ve realised that even at the end of the innings, you’ve got more time that you think. Out there in the middle everyone sort of rushes and there’s a lot of pressure around you. That’s when you need to calm yourself down and believe that you have enough time on your hands. What also helps me is looking at the number of balls rather than overs that are left. 60 runs from 36 balls sounds a lot easier mentally than 60 runs from six overs does. Another important thing is to practice in such a way that when the ball is in your hitting area, it must go. You will get such balls during the end overs of a chase because the bowlers are under pressure too. If you can hit out, that will release the pressure.
Who do you think is the best finisher in cricket today?
MS Dhoni has shown how good he really is over the last couple of years and he is probably the best in that regards right now.
Darren Sammy is one of those cricketers who does not invoke fear among the opposition. But while batsmen consume all their energies in figuring the big guns out, he quietly sneaks in and does the damage.
Six wickets and 105 runs from six matches perhaps looks ordinary on paper. But when one sees that all of those six wickets have come in match-winning spells (2 for 10 against DD and 4 for 22 against KXIP), the true value is known.
The second of those figures came in Mohali, as the Sunrisers Hyderabaddefended 150, thanks to Parthiv Patel’s (61 off 47) tenacity and Thisara Perera’s (32 off 19) belligerence. Three of Sammy’s wickets wereAdam Gilchrist, Shaun Marsh and David Miller – KXIP’s three best and in-form batsmen.
After his game-changing and match-winning performance, Sammy took time out to speak to iplt20.com and shared how Waqar Younis has given direction to the SRH bowling attack to make them one of the most lethal in the tournament.
Your little girl is proving to be very lucky for you!
Yes, she is. Probably I should make another one to get even luckier (laughs). But it’s been a good experience playing my first IPL and for a good bunch of guys who continue to display that never-say-die attitude every time. On Saturday, after being on 52 for five, to get to 150 on that wicket was a very good fight back.
How classy was Parthiv Patel’s knock?
I think it’s proven that the anchors are as important in this format as the hitters are. Michael Hussey is not a big hitter but he has the Orange Cap. I think batting in T20 is more about reading the situation of the game and executing your shots properly. I thought Parthiv did that really well on Saturday night. He assessed the conditions, analysed the situation and he knew that if he got 50 in the end, we will end up with 140-plus.
With such a strong bowling attack, how do you approach an innings?
We go in with a strategy for every batsman and plan for them individually. On that wicket you don’t have to do much. With the grass on the good-length, our bowling coach, Waqar Younis asked us to bowl like we do in a Test match – just put the ball on that one spot and let the pitch do the rest Later on we took pace off the ball.
You dismissed KXIP’s three most dangerous batsmen. Which one was your favourite wicket?
All of them have been dangerous at different times in the tournament and David Miller, especially. Our plan was to bowl on good-length to him and let him try to have a go at us. Even though he scored a 100 in 38 balls a couple of games back, Saturday he was starting on naught. He made a mistake and we got the result.
What have you picked up from people like Waqar Younis and Dale Steyn?
Oh, there’s so much of experience there. The one thing I have picked from them is to be clear. Make sure when you’re on the top of your mark, you know what ball you’re going to bowl – if it’s a Yorker, slower one, length ball, bouncer, whatever it is. When you start running in, no matter what the batsman does, you know that is the ball that’s going to come out of your hand.
Death bowling is a major area of concern for most teams in T20. The Sunrisers have done better than many others in that regard. Is there any special preparation for that aspect?
We pay a lot of attention to the tail. We know everyone can swing their bats in this format. Today the planning was to vary the pace because on this wicket it’s difficult for the batsmen to score if you do that. If they had started picking us, we’d have gone to plan B, which was Yorkers. In any form of cricket the Yorker is always the best ball to bowl towards the end of the innings. Having Waqar in the team has helped us a lot, especially in planning for each batsman.
What is the best thing about being a Sunriser?
This team never gives up. We don’t have too many star players but when our backs are at the wall somebody steps up. Today it was Parthiv and (Thisara) Perera who did it for us. What Sunrisers have done is that we have risen to every challenge.