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WhenKolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir speaks, he speaks with a lot of positivity and intent. The same kind of attitude that he would want from his side, especially after their back to back losses in the tournament as they face Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
When asked how Gambhir plans to keep his side motivated after suffering consecutive losses; Gambhir replied “Wearing the KKR jersey is a big motivation in itself. If you are not able to motivate yourself wearing this KKR jersey you do not deserve to be sitting in the dressing room! There are many more people dying to get into the dressing room wearing this jersey.”
I do not think I have to motivate them to get the best out of them, they have to motivate themselves. I know we have not performed the way we would have liked, but this is part and parcel of the game. Things can change very quickly. One good innings, even one or two strokes can turn things on their head,” added the captain as he addressed the press here at Kolkata.
It is a no brainer that batting has been the biggest problem for the Knight Riders in this tournament. Their middle order has barely got going while their top order has failed to fire and then there has always been a question of when Brendon McCullum would feature in the playing eleven?
For that, Gambhir said, “We have to see how we can fit in Brendon McCullum. It is difficult to replace two quality spinners (Sunil Narine and Senanayake) who have been the silver lining for us till now in the tournament after Eoin Morgan. Morgan has been in very good form and I feel he has been hitting the ball the best. It is a difficult choice to make whether you want McCullum up the order or whether you want a finisher in the middle order. At the moment our middle order hasn’t clicked, but at least with the presence of Morgan there is someone who is out there getting runs for us.”
Gambhir also believed playing Debabrata Das brought a lot more balance to the side. “Debabrata Das gives us a better balance. Das is someone who can give us that explosive power which we need in the middle overs. He is a clean striker of the ball. It was because of Das, who keeps wickets and bats at No.6, that we could get Yusuf Pathan to bat at the top of the order. We might change it tomorrow but that is one combination that we can always consider. You always need more options like these in the competition. The more options you have the better it is for the captain.”
Mumbai Indians have a power packed batting line up and KKR’s bowling abilities will be tested come Wendesday. When asked if KKR have a set plan for certain individuals in the team, Gambhir replied, “We would like to contain the entire team and not concentrate on certain individuals. We will take Mumbai Indians as a batting unit and whatever bowling attack we feel is the best to restrict them, we will stick to that.”
KKR have just four points from six games and it is time they raised their game and start winning to keep their hopes alive in the tournament. Gambhir though, believed his side was positive of making it to the top four.
“I am pretty confident that we will bounce back and make it to the top four. We want to go out there and play fearless cricket. We will be positive when we play Mumbai Indians tomorrow.”
Kings XI Punjab are set to take on the ‘resurrected’Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on the evening of April 23rd. TheAdam Gilchrist-led team pulled off an incredible win against the Pune Warriors India in their previous game and will be looking to make it two wins on the trot, something they are yet to do in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013.
Speaking to the media ahead of the match against the Daredevils, coach Darren Lehmann told the media, “I think every game is vital and the competitions ahead is going to be pretty tight. We would love to get on a roll a bit. Yes, we have not won two in a row but it would be nice to do that now and get a mini roll going. Some teams like the Royal Challengers Bangalore have had 4-5 wins in a row, we have got to try and get that somewhere. Tomorrow is a different day and hopefully we will play well again.”
While discussing the team combination and their approach for the match against DD, he said, “Delhi has a different wicket as compared to Mohali. I think we will probably have to change our game. It is just the way it is in the competition, some of the wickets are different in the way they play. Daredevils are a very good side at home and obviously they're coming off their first win (which will have given them confidence). They played really well against Mumbai Indians. Every game is tough in this competition. But the combination was good for us on Sunday night.
Speaking of the team composition, he added, “It depends on who we are playing and where we are playing. DD have played brilliantly no doubt about that. Whether we will play another extra batsman here in Delhi I don’t know so.”
Although they pulled off a win in their last game, KXIP still have areas that they would have to work on and also expect some of their key players to click as the tournament progresses. One of the players who is vital to the team’s success is the captain himself. A destructive player on his day, Adam Gilchrist is yet to fire in the ongoing season.
“We would like him to get a lot more runs, there is no doubt about that. But he brings a lot more to the team. He leads brilliantly on the ground as well as outside and he still keeps really well (although he missed last night). We will make sure that we will pick the right side. Adam is our captain and he has done a very good job for us in the tournament. So yes we would like more runs from him, he would like more runs.”
Speaking about the youngsters in their side, Lehmann observed, “They are great young kids. They are excited and they have got talent. We are really lucky enough we have got a really young squad (to work with), useful Indian squad and they have some skills. For us is it is about harnessing that skill and play at the right time and probably be a little more consistent, that’s all. But having said that, for me it is the experienced guys making the runs as well and the overseas didn’t make any runs until last night. (David) Hussey got a couple of 40s and obviously Adam has struggled a little bit but the experienced guys have to help the younger guys out and make sure they are learning the game along the way. If we do that we will be fine.”
The Kings need to put up more consistent performances to stake a claim for a place in the play offs. And although they have come off a thrilling win in which Mandeep Singh and David Miller put in brilliant performances, the coach said, “It is only one game though. We got to back that up and go at it again and again. Once we start doing that and get some consistency in our game then we will make enough runs and as you have seen with our bowling it is pretty good most of the time so the challenge for us is to keep backing that up.”
And one of the challenges that they will be facing is a rejuvenated DD side with their most dangerous player, Virender Sehwag in good nick. Asked about their strategy for the dangerous opener, Lehmann said, “Can you give us a hint? When he is on he is on. That is the way he plays.
He has been a great player for India and Delhi Daredevils over the years. We have got certain plans but at the end of the day if he is on he can take the game away; it is just as simple as that. It's good to watch from afar, so hopefully it doesn't happen tomorrow night. But it is good to see him, and it is great for the tournament when he plays the way he plays, but for us it is a case of trying to keep him down tomorrow night.”
One of the players that could add to weight to KXIP is Shaun Marsh. However, the batsman is still to be match fit and it will be a few days before one could see him in KXIP colours.
“He won't be available yet. He is available for being here but he has just got off the flight and has come from a surgery. It would be another three or four days probably before he plays. We don’t take any risk with players that are not fit to play at the level we need them to play. In the IPL we cannot do that, it is a full on tournament. When he gets through the full fielding fitness and running between the wicket drills at the speed we need him to get to then he will be available for selection. At the moment he is not allowed.”
While discussing their position on the points table and way forward, he stated, “We have played only six games so far. We have won three and lost three which isn't too bad.”
“We will definitely get in with nine but I would love to get 10 wins that will make it easier. But again there are still ten games to go so we won’t worry about the table at the moment. All we will worry about is to get the way we want to play right and if we do that the rest will look after itself.”