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For a generation of cricket lovers the name ‘Jonty Rhodes’ is synonymous with the art of fielding. After all, not many cricketers can claim to have won an ODI Man of the Match award just for their performance on the field.
Now, the legendary South African fielder teaches the tricks of his trade to the mélange of players from all over the world in the Mumbai Indians camp.
In a chat with IPLT20.com after MI’s first IPL title victory, Rhodes credited the league for lifting the standard of fielding several notches.
Finally an IPL title under your belt!
Yes! We were in the final in 2010 and lost to CSK. So it is nice to turn it around this time. We’ve had some ups and downs and disappointments but we’ve finally got our first IPL title. We won the CLT20 two years ago and it is nice to add an IPL Trophy to that.
Would you say that this is the best MI has played in an entire season as compared to the previous ones?
Yes, 11 wins out of 16 league matches is not bad. Two or three games that we lost were such that we should have won. I think overall this has been a consolidated team effort. At the start of the season Dinesh Karthik played very well, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu chipped in, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith too had their contributions. We had Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga; Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh bowled really well. Our fielding performance has been amazing and so has the batting. So, an all round, great team effort.
The bowling in particular stepped up when it mattered most, didn’t it?
Yes, I think batting second in the final is difficult. We experienced that in 2010 against CSK when we couldn’t get past a chaseable total. A final does funny things to guys. No matter how many times you’ve been there, it’s a matter of trying to get the job done on that day. CSK have a very good batting lineup and the key for us was to keep taking wickets. I don’t think CSK panicked at all. They just got some very good bowling – Malinga’s and Mitch’s first overs were brilliant.
How happy are you as the team’s fielding coach?
It was the beauty of this tournament. Pollard kept taking those brilliant catches for us. He caught MS Dhoni on the boundary in our first game. Against Kings XI Punjab he caught Shaun Marsh one-handed. But it hasn’t just been the international players – Ambati Rayudu did well, Rishi Dhawan, on his debut, took two great catches. Even Ojha, who is not the fastest guy on the field and he’d be the first one to admit it. Everybody has backed it up. As the fielding coach that’s all I want. I am not expecting 11 Ricky Pontings. If Malinga to Bhajji to Rayudu are doing their best, that’s all I can ask for.
Overall, do you think the standard of fielding went really high this year?
Oh, it a real asset what the IPL has done. If you look at the most stunning catches this season, it’s not only the international players but young Indian players who are coming through. Look at the CSK team –I watch them in marvel. I told Suresh Raina that I love watching him play. He’s so busy in the field. Jadeja with his arm, Virat Kohli, who affected two direct hits against us in Mumbai – these Indian guys have a great future ahead of them and the standard of fielding through out has improved and the IPL has done that.
In a long tournament like this, is it possible to pick one match or moment that changed things around for the team?
I think for us it came here in Kolkata, against the Kolkata Knight Riders. We had lost two on the road, against DD and RR, and coming here, we chased down 160 on a typical Eden Gardens wicket. I think that really turned things around for us because it was a win away from home against the odds when we needed one desperately to get back our campaign back on track. Guys speak about different moments but for me that game stood out.
MI all-rounder talks of title clinching knock at Eden Gardens
By Harsh Kalan
Kolkata 27 May 2013
There is no doubt that Kieron Pollard has been one of the most important players in the Mumbai Indiansset-up this year. The all-rounder has not only shone with bat and sometimes with ball, but he has been a game-changer with his exceptional fielding as well.
From plucking certain sixes in midair on the field to crafting championship-winning innings, Pollard gave his 100 percent in all departments this season.
In an exclusive chat with IPLT20.com, this is what the West Indian all-rounder had to say about his half century against the Chennai Super Kings and winning the coveted IPL title for the first time.
MI have come close before and finally with your help they got their hands around the IPL Trophy
This is a great feeling! I have been playing for the Mumbai Indians for four years and to get this opportunity and to be able to pull it off, it is fantastic. It is something I will cherish forever.
What were you thinking when you went in to bat with MI reeling at 52/4?
Nothing much was going on in my mind when wickets were tumbling. I just wanted to focus on my game. I just wanted to back myself and my ability. I know what the team needed from me at that point in time. These are the games that you have to win for your franchise and thank God it came off and we actually won!
This season, your fielding alone gave MI a leg up in many contests. Have you been focusing on any particular drills?
I have not really been doing anything extra for my fielding. I just feel it is important to give your best each and every time you go on the field. And if you don’t score runs or take wickets, you have the opportunity to make up for it in the field. At least, that is the way I look at it. I just want to contribute in all three departments. To me, if I don’t contribute in either one of these departments, then I think I have failed.
You have won three finals over the last one year. You seem to be making a habit of winning
It is a fantastic feeling. So far I have been in three finals over the last year. First it was the World T20 finals; then I was in the finals for my Club back home - we (Trinidad & Tobago) won that and qualified for the Champions League (CLT20), before I got here and now the IPL. And that is what I was talking about before this final, that I have been in two winning finals before and I just wanted to keep that record going.
And now in the next few days, we have another important tournament coming up, the Champions Trophy. We (West Indies) are looking forward to that as well. Dwayne Bravo is going to be our captain, and we are really enthusiastic about it and let us see if we (West Indies) can play good cricket and come out on top over there as well.
Speaking of Bravo, you two seem to be enjoying your rivalry?
Yes, of course. I bring out my best against Bravo. He is my good friend, and we have a big rivalry going on. So, when we chat, we talk about how many championships he has won as compared to how many I have. I am neck and neck with him since I have won the IPL now. But he just told me that he has won the Champions Trophy as well. So I told him, ‘Don’t worry both of us can now go and win that!’
Finally, what do you have to say to all the MI fans who consider you a cult hero?
I would like to thank the Mumbai crowd. The support of the Mumbai fans, and fans all over India have been spectacular. This would not be possible without them. And hopefully, each and every time I come back to India, it will be the same great feeling.