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He has been performing with the ball for theRajasthan Royals, but in the Eliminator of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013,James Faulkner’s batting skills were called upon against Sunrisers Hyderabad. And the young Aussie came out trumps in that tense situation. With six wickets down and 31 runs required to win off 25 balls, Faulkner joinedBrad Hodge(54 off 29) at the crease and helped take the team across the line with four balls to spare.
While speaking to IPLT20.com later, Faulkner who has, on occasions found himself at the receiving end of Hodge’s batting prowess in his country’s domestic circuit said that, he was glad to be on the same side at the senior Pro.
Excerpts from the interview:
On whether the similar conditions when they beat SRH at Sawai Mansingh Stadium were at the back of the mind Yes, but it wasn’t at the back of the mind. It has obviously been a tough week for everyone involved but to get over the line there was an amazing feeling. Brad Hodge was the man of the moment and he thoroughly deserves it.
On his batting and playing a supporting role to Hodge
It is pretty much the bat and the ball in the end. At the end of the innings there is always going to be pressure and it is a matter of how you cope with it. The partnership (33 runs) was obviously good on Wednesday night. Brad Hodge pretty much sealed it for us. His innings was unbelievable. I have, at the other end, myself been playing domestic cricket against him but it is good to be at the same end this time.
On the partnership
It was just a matter of getting bat on ball. I didn’t get off to the best start on my first three. After I struck my first boundary my confidence grew a little bit but it was all about getting Hodgey on strike. At the end of the day he hit over the fence two times in a row and we won the game so it was a good feeling.
On the crucial wicket of Shikhar Dhawan and his plans for the SRH opener
I wouldn’t want to give too much away from our plans. It was pretty much about the basics in the end. To change the pace, back of length Yorkers is pretty much what every other death bowler tries to do.
On being in contention for the Purple Cap
I am not really fussed about that. It is all about the franchise and I am lucky enough to get an opportunity this year and play some games of cricket for the Royals. I am really enjoying my time here so far and hopefully will continue for a few more days.
Brad Hodge might have stolen all the limelight with his fiery batting that took the Royals to a thrilling four-wicket victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, but one of the notable performances that should not be given a miss is that of medium-pacer Vikramjeet Malik. Malik, who plays for Himachal Pradesh and was scouted by the Rajasthan Royals before the start of the tournament has not been a regular fixture for the franchise. But given the day, given the moment and thrown the ball to, Malik did not disappoint.
“I got a hint that I would play the match against SRH a day before and was asked to be ready for the game,” Malik said, as he spoke to IPLT20.com.
“It was only on Wednesday thatRahul Dravid confirmed the decision after looking at the pitch. Rahul bhai and Shane Watson motivated me before the game and asked me to stick to my basics,” added Malik. Before playing against the Sunrisers, Malik featured in just one game which was against the Chennai Super Kings. Malik said he felt like a kid who warmed the bench for most part of the season, and felt like it even when he got a chance to play. “When I played against Chennai Super Kings in my first game this year, I felt like a newbie. It felt as if I was back in 2009 when I first played for the Kings XI Punjab, but the feeling got better when I got a game playing for Rajasthan Royals this year and I am happy I performed well against SRH.”
Having said that he felt like a newbie, when asked if he was confident of a good show coming into a crucial game, Malik said he was more nervous but at the same time confident. “I was nervous before bowling the first ball of the match. I got a chance to play a match after a long gap and I decided to bowl according to my strength and not try anything fancy. I did not get any wickets in the lone game I played before this match, but I had bowled well which gave me the confidence to perform well in the big game.”
Malik bowled three overs in the game and got two early wickets, that of Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihariwhich put SRH straightaway on the back-foot. By getting two quick wickets in his very first spell, Malik’s job was done. “My main job was to give my team a good start with the ball. I told myself, that if the captain gave me the ball it was my responsibility not to disappoint my captain. I am glad I lived up to the expectations and picked two crucial wickets up front.”
When asked why the Royals did not complete his full quota of four overs even after such a good spell of bowling, Malik said, “There were other bowlers in the team who had bowled well throughout the tournament. They had more experience of bowling under certain circumstances and that could be the reason why I was held back. My job was done the moment I gave my side a good start.”
Malik who has the experience of 65 first class games and over 250 wickets to his name thanked the Rajasthan Royals management for the chance to play in the IPL. “I owe a lot of credit to the Rajasthan Royals. They had seen me perform in the domestic competitions and backed me for my skills. I have had a decent run this year in the domestic circuit and I was asked by the management to play to the best of my ability.”
Malik has represented the Kings XI Punjab before joining the Royals and described the whole IPL journey as a learning experience as he said, “Brett Lee has helped me when we were both with Kings XI Punjab. I have always loved fast bowling and it is great to have pacers like Shaun Tait in the side wherein everyday you get to learn a lot.”
Malik also found inspiration in Glenn McGrath and said he had learnt a lot watching the Aussie legend play. “Glenn McGrath has been my biggest inspiration. I have learnt a lot from watching him on TV. Over the years there have been fast bowlers like Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram who have been great bowlers, but McGrath has inspired me the most.”
Up next, the Royals face Mumbai Indians and Malik vowed not to disappoint. I am not sure if I will get a chance to play in the next game, but if I do I will make sure that I put up a good performance for my captain and my side.”