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This season of IPL has seen some superlative cricketing performances with bat, ball and in the field. And some of the most entertaining ones have come from the swaggering Caribbean contingent.
Be it Chris Gayle’s incredible willow-wielding, Dwayne Bravo dancing his way to the purple cap or Kieron Pollard plucking those stunners out of thin air – the Caribbean magic was on full view for the last two months.
Two of the West Indians kept their region’s flag flying high till the very end of the tournament. Dwayne Smith and Pollard played significant roles in taking theMumbai Indians to their maiden IPL title, with a 23-run win over Chennai Super Kingsat the Eden Gardens.
Smith, one half of the opening pair that replaced the Sachin Tendulkar-Ricky Ponting duo, scored 418 runs in 13 matches with four fifties. He couldn’t take the smile off his face, chatting to iplt20.com as part of the Pepsi IPL 2013 winning team. Smith spoke about the promises he made with his Caribbean mates and how they fulfilled them.
Isn’t this what you have been waiting to experience in your career?
Yes. I watched the team lose the 2010 final and tonight I am so glad to be part of the winning team. Before the game I was talking to (Kieron) Pollard that one of us has to be the Man of the Match today. When I got out, I told him, ‘I didn’t do it so you will have to win this for us and I know you will.’ He came out trumps and I love that.
Where does this IPL triumph stand in your career?
Oh, it’s up there. This is my first major final that I’ve played in and I’ve come out as a winner. I’m so happy.
You didn’t do it today but you were a key performer for the team throughout the season.
Replacing the Tendulkar-Ponting pair at the top of the order I had nothing to lose. I just had to go out there, back myself and be positive in everything I do. It came good at times and I’m glad it resulted in us winning the tournament.
How was it being captained by one of the most successful international captains, in Ricky Ponting?
It was amazing. Even when he wasn’t playing he always had something positive to say and that helped the team to no end. He was always involved, was out on the field during every strategic timeout and he kept us all together.
How has it been working with John Wright?
Apart from him being really nervous during the games, he’s been very good. He’s very inspirational and it’s been great working with not only him but the entire leadership group including Ponting, Kumble, Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh.
The West Indian guys have rocked this IPL!
Yes, at the beginning of the tournament I talked to Chris (Gayle) and we said, ‘at least one of us has to make it to the final and make we end up winning’. It’s good to fulfill that promise and I am glad that all the West Indian players have performed well throughout.
Will the Caribbean boys plan a grand IPL party back home?
Some of the guys will go to the England for the Champion Trophy and I go back to Barbados and then join Sussex later in June. But hopefully some day we can all come together, talk about the IPL and celebrate together.
Have you worked on your dance moves for the victory party?
We West Indians don’t have to work on our dance moves because we always have them!
MI spinner lauds young skipper’s nonchalant approach
By Harsh Kalan
Kolkata 27 May 2013
Throughout the season, Mumbai Indians’ skipper, Rohit Sharma, has marshaled his troops like a veteran. In just his first full-time leadership role at the top level, the 26-year-old managed the array of world-class bowlers at his disposal with aplomb. This was especially evident when he brought in Pragyan Ojha in the middle overs to decisively tilt the IPL 2013 Final in MI’s favour.
The left-arm spinner repaid his skipper’s faith with the wicket of Albie Morkel, thereby neutralising the potential threat of the South African all-rounder mounting a comeback with the hard-hitting MS Dhoni.
“I think it was a very crucial wicket as these two guys (Morkel and Dhoni) would have made a lot of difference and getting them out at a crunch time was extremely vital,” Ojha said.
The spinner credited his captain for such well-timed bowling changes and tactics, which saw MI win their maiden IPL title. “I think Rohit is very calm. He knows what to do and he does not react much. So, he is very good while managing things on the field. And most importantly, he is a bowlers’ captain,” said Ojha while lauding Sharma’s calculated approach.
However, Ojha also played a crucial role with the bat in the final when he somehow managed to hand Kieron Pollard the strike with two balls left in the MI innings. Just when it seemed like Dwayne Bravo was destined to bowl a magical last over, Pollard struck him for two massive sixes that took MI’s total to a challenging 148.
“When I came to bat, I just kept thinking that I have to give Pollard a single because in two balls you never know what happens. And then after I took the single, he got those 12 runs and it made a big difference,” Ojha said.
Meanwhile, he also lauded the entire MI set-up for gelling well throughout IPL 2013. “It was an outstanding season. We played like a team. Everyone was backing each other; everyone trusted one another’s abilities. And this season was special right from the start.
“And in a big game like this when two of the best sides are playing and you want to be the better team, you have got to play as a unit and back each other. That is because this game is played with 11 players,” he said.
Ojha was also thrilled to win his second IPL title – his first one came back in 2009 with the Deccan Chargers. “I am lucky enough to be part of a winning side twice. The feeling is just awesome. And to do it in front of the Eden Gardens crowd, nothing can be better than that,” Ojha said.