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The Mumbai Indians have already beaten the Delhi Daredevils earlier in the tournament and would like to add two more points to their tally with a win at the Feroz Shah Kotla on April 20.
The Ricky Ponting-led side will face off against a home team that is still seeking to get off the mark.
Speaking about the opposition who will seek to go for the kill, Mumbai Indians’ keeper-batsman, Dinesh Karthiksaid, “On an honest note, I think the Delhi Daredevils are a good team. For us it is not about looking at how they have played, it is important that we look at how we have played.
We have played five games and won three. We have played some good cricket and some ordinary cricket too. So looking at DD and looking at their track record, I am sure that they are a very good team and there is no doubting that, just that they have still not performed to their potential. And the good thing is that we have a good chance if we play well. We need to watch out as they are a team which is very hungry for their first win, so it works both ways. It is important for us to concentrate on the way we play.”
The 27-year old, has been an important cog in the MI line-up and made vital contributions with the bat in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. Speaking about his performances with the willow, Karthik said, “So far my batting has been good and the confidence is good too so it is important I be consistent for my team.”
However, it is the opening pair that has not been clicking for the Mumbai Indians but, Karthik does not feel that it is an area of concern given the stature of the openers – Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. The No 3 bat believes that the veterans will deliver soon.
“Barring a couple of games we haven’t got a good start yet, but they are the kind of players we all know can produce results and I am sure they will deliver,” he said.
Speaking about batting at No 3 and the opportunities that the position offers him, Karthik elaborated, “As a batsman, the great thing about Mumbai Indians is Anil bhai (Anil Kumble), Ricky (Ponting) and John (Wright) have placed faith and sent me at No 3 and it is important that, if not for anything else, I deliver for those three people. That is what I am looking to do with the bat and T20 is such a format that the openers and the No 3 have the best chance to score runs because they get to play more number of overs. I am very thankful and grateful to MI for that.”
“In terms of quantum of runs, you can score a lot more runs if you are opening or batting at No 3, as you go lower down the order you get lesser number of balls (to face) and the strike rate matters a great deal. Having said that, the openers and No 3 have a great responsibility because the whole team and the batting order will depend on them to deliver and the results will go on the way we bat,” he added.
Elaborating on his role further, Karthik added, “There is no specific role as such. Depending on the situation I just go out there and see what I need to do. In the last game the wicket was doing a bit so if I played a stupid shot and got out, it didn’t make sense so I thought I will play as much as I can and then start playing shots. But I have not been given anything specific to do. All I have been told is to go out there and play my natural game and that is something I am really grateful for.”
Asked if there will be changes to the line-up he said that they will only know about it later in the day.
Continuing to discuss his own batting and asked whether with his current form he hopes to don the National jersey soon, he replied, “I am always confident of my batting abilities and I have always felt that I can play for India as a batsman. There is all reason for me to play again in the Indian team as a batsman and I am very confident that I can deliver. I am someone who can field well as well so I have always been confident of my batting abilities and I am very sure that I will deliver for team India when given the opportunity. At the same time the selectors are also aware of the fact that I can field and considering the way the team is doing everything is going well and I am raring to be part of the team again.”
Since he is likely to be in the out-field if he turns out for the national team, would he be considering fielding in the outfield for MI as well?
Karthik said, “It doesn’t require for me to field in the IPL to play as a batsman in the Indian team. I think at the moment if you say an Aditya Tare comes in the team and he is part of the eleven, I am sure I will be fielding and have already done that. And I have fielded in the IPL for Kings XI Punjab too. So fielding has never been an issue for me and I am always somebody who is very confident about my fielding ability. I have had a good domestic season as a batsman and I am very sure that given an opportunity for team India I will do the best that I can in any format.”
While speaking about the opportunities in the IPL, he also said, “The IPL is a platform where you play the best bowlers. Tomorrow when you are playing against the Delhi Daredevils you are playing Morne Morkel who is a top bowler in the world right now and if you get runs against him it is going to be a great morale booster for you. So every team that you play, you play Sunrisers Hyderabad you play Dale Steyn. So you play against the best bowlers and are always looking forward to doing well. The difference between domestic cricket and IPL is that you get to play overseas fast bowlers who are playing for their country. So if you play against them then you know that you are there and that you are ready to perform for team India as well. But having said that, the pressure is different when you play for the country.”
Still to open their account in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, the Delhi Daredevils are hoping to turn things around when they take the field on Sunday afternoon against the Mumbai Indians.
After a string a defeats DD have been working towards reversing their fortunes, but losing to the Mumbai Indians in Mumbai earlier this season, will also be at the back of their minds.
Analysing the team’s run in the tournament so far, Johan Botha said, “The thing that stands out is the tight situations and the game changing moments we haven’t taken yet in the first six games. Hopefully when that comes again, we can take that go from there; take the opportunity.”
“You want one of your top four to come good. Every team needs that, and lots of teams would like to have that go their way. Watching the games over the last few days, I think all teams are really struggling to put it down. In the past few IPLs there were really high scores and this year that hasn’t happened yet so I think every team is looking to do that better. But the guys are bowling pretty well at the moment but that contributes to the batters struggling a bit,” he added.
Looking back on the six losses on the trot, he reflected, “Yes, it hurts. None of us, when we got here wanted this situation, but out of these situations, there are great opportunities for the guys to put a stop to this slide. We are just taking it one game at a time. We can’t look and say that we want to win eight or nine out of ten games or whatever it is to get into the play offs. For now, from this situation we just concentrate and focus on one game which, for now is against Mumbai Indians. We respect them and we know they are a really good team. But we hope that in our squad someone will have put up their hand and put a really good performance, a big match performance and pull the other guys with him and that’s what we need. We need one or two guys to step up and the other guys will follow. A good example is, last year, Morne (Morkel) bowled very well and Kevin Pietersen batted really well so hopefully there are a couple of guys in our team who can just start it. We just have to start it and get going and take it from there. I am sure then the guys who are left can still contribute with some wins in the tournament.”
While further discussing the overall performance of the team and not doing as well as expected he said, “That is a concern, but within the group we have spoken that it is a great opportunity for someone else to take. We have got some really good young Indian players and that is to actually throw them into the deep end and hopefully one or two senior overseas players who can step up and help these young Indian guys put their hand up. Now that will be a great opportunity for all of us to put a stop to the slide and like I said earlier it is going to take one 70 to 80 runs (knock) from any one in 50 or 60 balls to get the group going and I am sure everyone will start firing around him.”
Speaking over the absence of Pietersen, who had played a key role in DD’s success last season, Botha said, “I wouldn’t just point it at one man, we still have some really good players, international and Indian, who haven’t just fired yet. KP was the one who put the foot down and took the team forward and others followed him and that’s what we are looking for now. Kevin P is one of the best players in the world at the moment and you are not going to replace him, he is too good for that. We are all going to miss him but it is a great opportunity for someone else to step up.”
Apart from the batting woes, the bowling attack too has a few areas that they would be looking to improve on. The Daredevils bowling has been milked for runs in the death overs. “Yes that’s a concern but if you look at those two games (against CSK and MI). (Michael) Hussey had gotten 50 or 60 and in the MI game there were two guys who got fifty and that is always going to put you under pressure and from a bowling point of view we have spoken about it. We are not quite happy with our death bowling at the moment but we have got some really good quicks and some really experienced players. The guys are doing everything possible to try and correct that. And like I said if we can get couple of our batters in that situation, the last four or five overs, a guy in on forty or 50 or sixty, then the other team is under pressure,” he observed.
However, in the sixth season of the IPL the bowlers have been making an impression in the tournament and dominating it. Speaking about the apparent trend, he said, “I am not hundred percent sure it is the wicket. The guys are bowling really well and the fielding standard has been excellent and guys are taking some great catches. There are some good run outs all around the country and that all contributes to building pressure. Bowlers are hanging in there for just a extra little bit and cracking in that pressure and batters have got to make plans at the moment. Guys are getting out but somewhere in the tournament someone is going to break free and scores might lift a bit and hopefully we can be the team to do that.”