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Shirin Sadikot in Hyderabad 18 April 2013 - 07:46pm IST

GIlly’s form not a concern: Lehmann

KXIP coach wants the batting group to lift their game collectively

Darren Lehmann walked into the press conference room at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium to friendly hellos from the local journalists. He met them as one would an old acquaintance or mate. The Kings XI Punjab coach surely looked pleased to be back in Hyderabad city, the home to the IPL franchise he coached last year.

“I have fond memories of this place and it’s good to be back in Hyderabad. I caught up with a few old people and am now looking forward to catching up with a few from the opposition side,” he said, before getting to the business of talking cricket.

Lehmann’s familiarity with Hyderabad and most of the Sunrisers players should help KXIP a great deal. Having worked with the likes of Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra – the premier performers for SRH so far – Lehmann knows his team are for up a tough task.

“They’ve got a very good bowling attack. But we have got our plans. We know pretty much what they do and they know how we play,” Lehmann said.

“I’ve always rated Mishy (Amit Mishra, who bagged his second IPL hat-trick, against Pune Warriors in the last match) high. We’ve got Piyush Chawla and it’s going to be a contest between the two leggies.

“Ishant has had a fine time with the Indian team. He’s a fine young man. He was injured and missed last year’s IPL which was disappointing for the team. He’s a quality bowler and we will have to work our way to get on top of him,” the KXIP coach said.

The Kings’ IPL 2013 journey has been a bit of a mixed bag, two wins and as many losses. While these are early days in the tournament, Lehmann admits that batting is turning out to be a concern for the team.

In their first three games, KXIP scored 100, 138 and 124 before Manpreet Singh Gony’s late fireworks helped them to their first 150-plus score, against the Kolkata Knight Riders.

“We’d like more runs,” Lehmann said. “I think we are the only team in the tournament so far with no batsman scoring a fifty. That’s disappointing from the batting group point of view.

“I thought we started to bat well in the last match but it was mainly due to Gony’s powerful 40-odd. We’re doing all things right in the nets and off the field. They’ve just got to make more runs now,” said the coach.

Contributing to the team’s batting failures is their skipper, Adam Gilchrist’s lack of batting form. Lehmann said it has not yet become a major cause of worry for the team.

“As captain he has done a really good job and his keeping has been fantastic as well. He has to get more runs and he knows that. But no dramas as such,” he said of his former Australian team-mate.

Gony’s blistering 18-ball 42 gave KXIP a thrilling win over the defending champions and Lehmann said the team will draw a lot of confidence from that win going into this match. “You take the confidence because they’re the champions and to beat the best side of last year is important.

“But again, it’s a long tournament, so you don’t dwell in the past too much; you take the confidence from the wins, knowing that you’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s always about the next match. Hyderabad have won four matches and are going well and we will have to play really well to beat them here.

Lehmann hinted at a few changes in the team combination for the contest against SRH, refusing to divulge any detail.

“We have a couple of injury concerns and you might see a couple of changes in the XI tomorrow. But we’d like to keep it to ourselves. We’ll probably make the decision in the morning,” he said.

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