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Riding the wave of their convincing win over the Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils are looking to bounce back from the string of losses they had prior to April 21. TheMahela Jayawardene-led side will be taking on Kings XI Punjab who come into the game on April 23 riding on the back of a thrilling and nerve wrecking win and will be high on confidence as well.
Speaking about the importance of momentum in a competitive tournament like the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, Roelof van der Merwe, who played his first game of the season against MI on Sunday said, “The importance is massive, especially in this tournament where is lot at stake. There is the Champions League (T20) and all that. The owners put out a lot of money for the players and they expect us to perform and it has got to happen. Momentum ... it is only 16 games, it sounds like a lot but I mean look at us, we have lost six and we are running out of time so momentum now is crucial for us to win two or three on the bounce and then towards the end you never know we might be in with a chance.”
Talking about the timely victory he also mentioned, “Especially after the kind of season we had last year, after playing in the semi-final, six losses in a row wasn’t what we expected and the kind of good players we have it is quite frustrating so to get a win on the board. Sunday night was good for our confidence and you might never know we might still pull through.”
The South African left-arm spinner who had been waiting to get an opportunity to take the field claimed a wicket in his first over at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Asked about biding his time until getting a chance to play in the eleven and motivating himself he said, “Yes it is hard being an overseas player, who is not a KP and guys who are always going to play. You sit on the sidelines and you imagine you will get your chance, and you know you got one game to do well otherwise the change will be made. It is really frustrating but at the end of the day it is all about the team winning and whoever plays, whether an overseas player or local player, it doesn’t matter as far as the team is winning.”
Discussing the differences in bowling in SA and India, Merwe explained, “The difference between South Africa and here are that the conditions here are better for spin bowling but the players also play better over here. I mean, the local Indian players are unbelievable players of spin. They do it every day, back home we don’t play spin as well, so it is also easier that way. Conditions are better here and so are the players.”
Talking further about the challenges for a spinner in T20, he added, “If you spin on a good wicket it could get difficult as fields aren’t very big but you just got to play with your pace, and try out things for the batters here. They are always going to come for the spinners and that is why spinners also take wickets. Batters try to take them on and most of the time they come off second.”
The bowlers have to hold their nerve and back themselves after being hit by the batsmen. Speaking on the issue he observed, “At the end of the day the batters are all out to play good cricket. They are not always going to hit good shots but I mean you just have to stick to your plans and if you get hit, you get hit. But you got to have your A plan (game) and if it doesn’t come off on the day there isn’t much that you can do.”
Asked how the presence of the legendary leg-spinner spinner Mushtaq Ahmed’s presence in the coaching staff as helped him, Merwe replied, “I think he is an awesome cricket brain and brings a lot of variation. I always just thought of bowling left-arm spin but he taught me a few variations that I can use and I think in a modern game it is needed. If you look at the best players, those guys have got a lot of variations and yes it very important.”
While speaking about the role of the mentors and former senior cricketers role he said, “They definitely play a big role. You come in with your game plan and the mentor is there to just reassure your confidence, to just back up what you are thinking and they give you little tips that you can use but they also add value to the side as they reassure you with that needed confidence.”
Asked about the different philosophies of different teams within IPL, Merwe observed, “Different teams, different owners, different management. From Royal Challengers Bangalore to Delhi Daredevils there are big differences in everything. It is just so for the player for two months of the year where you have to adapt to that and just go with it. We have an awesome management at DD and it has been good. We just haven’t been performing on the field.”
So was there pressure from the owners when as they underwent a string a losses? Appreciative of the support from the DD owners he stated, “In all honesty, all credit to (GMR Sports Chairman) Kiran (K Grandhi), he has been very calm under the circumstances and as professional cricketers we put pressure on ourselves to perform. That’s a natural thing where you rock up every game to do well and if you don’t do well, it eats away at you. They haven’t put any extra pressure on us and just want us to perform within ourselves.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore seems be one of the very few teams well aware of their own backyard like the back of their palms! While most teams have tasted defeat at home in the Pepsi IPL 2013, RCB have won all five home games so far to be sitting pretty at the top of the points table with 10 points and with a healthy net run rate to boot too.
On the eve of their sixth match against the young Pune Warriors India, a team that has blown hot and cold, mostly losing their way in some close contests, RCB’s Sri Lankan batsman Tillakeratne Dilshan affirmed that the Southern Reds, apart from knowing how to adjust and adapt to the changes that take place at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, were also playing the breed of cricket required for this format.
Talking to the media, he said, “Yes, we definitely know the conditions much better than other teams. We have played a lot of games and we know how to adjust batting on this wicket. We are also playing good cricket in all departments. That’s why we are winning.”
It is a known factor that when Gayle walks in, all else in the team are pushed into the background and it is not any different for Dilashan, who has done his share for RCB in the past.
But Dishan reiterates, “I am not going to change my role. If the ball comes in my areas, I am going to smash it. After all, it all depends on how Gayle is going about his game. If Gayle is going after the bowling, I would like to give him more strike and vice-versa.
Underlining the strength of the team and the need to get as many wins as early as possible with the belief of maintaining winning combos, to a great extent, the ‘Dilscoop’ inventor said, “After the first two games, I got injured and had to rest for 10 days. We tried another opener, but I had to come back into the side. The middle order is just strong and Saurab Tiwary, another left-hander, has come back strengthening it further.
Otherwise, we have one left-hander at the top (Chris Gayle). So, I doubt there will be any changes for the Tuesday contest.
“I came here with lot of confidence, scoring lot of runs in the ODI’s against Bangladesh. But unfortunately, I could not score runs in first two matches of this season. In the last match against RR, I scored 25 and I am keen to get more runs. But I am disappointed after I got out for 25. I am looking forward to get one big score in the coming matches”, he said of his own form.
RCB will hit the road following Tuesday’s contest and Dilshan said the team was focused whether playing at home or away.
“Our first aim is to win the match tomorrow. To get to 12 points and finish at the top of the table before we embark on away matches. We are playing away from home for the next 15 -20 days and we need to adjust to their conditions as soon as possible. That is the main task at our hands. We have lot of experience players and I think they can adjust quickly to those conditions and if we play good cricket, we can beat any side in any condition.
He also confirmed that young Mayank Agarwal was sidelined with a fractured finger.