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Prajakta Pawar in Jaipur 07 April 2013 - 07:29pm IST

Confidence is high: Kallis

All-rounder backs Narine, misses McCullum

In their first away game of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders’ will take on the Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Monday evening. Coming off a comfortable six-wicket win over the Delhi Daredevils the Gautam Gambhir-led side is high on confidence and raring to go.

Although they lost to RR at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium last season, the men in purple are looking to kick off with a clean slate. “We didn't play well here last time, but this is a very different team to what it was a year ago. The confidence level is high after winning our first game,” Jacques Kallis told the media after practice in Jaipur.

But, the Rajasthan Royals’ too have pulled off a fantastic win against the same opponents as KKR, the Delhi Daredevils and are likely to add more sting to their side with Shane Watson having arrived in the city. Speaking about what Watson brings to the RR table and what it would mean for the visitors’ the veteran all-rounder said, “He is a world class player. Any team that has a Shane Watson is a better team by a long way. I have no doubt that he will have a big role to play for them.”

Asked if they are missing Brendon McCullum, Kallis said, “Of course (we will miss him). Brendon is a world class player but I believe that he will be available soon. He gives us options and so I hope that pretty soon he will join the squad.”

Speaking about one of their key weapons, Sunil Narine and his effectiveness at the SMS Stadium, Kallis observed, “It looks a good wicket. We probably know our home conditions pretty well and our conditions better than here. But again he is a world class bowler who can bowl on any surface and will trouble most batters. He can sum conditions up pretty quickly.”

Further while discussing the competition that has entered its sixth edition, the South African who has been around since the inception of IPL said, “We have been competitive from day one. Every player walks out to the field to win a game of cricket. The first edition was as competitive as the recent one. Guys come here to play tough cricket and we certainly approach it that way. We come here to play hard and train hard.”

“The game of t20 has changed completely from when it first started a few years ago. There is a lot of strategy that goes into the batting and bowling side. You can’t just walk out there and try and hit a six, there are tactics that need to be employed. The game has moved along a long way and I think the bowlers and the batters’ skills have improved immensely and it has rubbed off on one-day international and Test cricket and certainly made those formats a lot more exciting and pulls out more results especially in the Test arena. The game has moved along and the skill levels of players have improved in batting and bowling. They are a whole lot better than what they were and the skill levels of players have improved,” he explained while talking about the evolution of the game.  

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