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WI legend insists batsmanship today is in wonderful hands
By IPL Staff
Delhi 26 April 2013
The Delhi Daredevilshave had a poor run in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 so far. Having won only one off their eight games, the Mahela Jayawardene-led team is keen to reverse their fortunes with eight matches still remaining.
The Daredevils are scheduled to play their next two home games at Raipur and will hope that the new venue will bring them luck and help turn things around.
The team did receive a boost with the arrival of Sir Vivian Richards in an ambassadorial and advisory role. The former West Indies cricketer, one of the most destructive batsmen in the history of the game, dominated bowlers the world over and is famously known for his fearless play. The legendary batsman is expected to play a key role in uplifting the Daredevils as they work towards extracting themselves from a quagmire and improve their performance.
While speaking to the media on Thursday before heading to Raipur, Richards said that his personal mantra, “never say die,” is what he would look to instill in the team. Asked about motivating a team that has lost seven matches and is grazing at the bottom of the points table, he said, “There is a much bigger picture I guess than what we have this year. The IPL is a substance league. A league where you have the best players from all parts of the world assemble here. As such players would have been in this situation before and it is of vital importance that everyone continues to keep faith. And I myself, as a motivational factor, have always felt, ‘never say die.’ My job where some of the players are concerned is to mobilize them and keep them focused”.
“They got themselves into wonderful positions before. Regardless of the performances that you are seeing now, they couldn’t have become a bad team overnight; there is some work to be done. Also, we have to take into consideration as well that some of the key players are not here and the sympathies can be felt in certain ways. With some of the younger players on board, we are in the belief that with experience that they can certainly get stronger, that hopefully they will start performing from the next match.
“It is important that everyone remains collectively well together and hope that better days will be just around the corner,” he added.
His advice also brought out Virender Sehwag’s brilliant performance in the match against the Mumbai Indians in Delhi last week.
Speaking about the interaction and what he meant when he spoke about ‘bluffing’ while explaining it to the DD opener, Richards said, “It was a little chat with Sehwag. I have been a great admirer of him over the years and regardless of how good a player you are and how destructive you may be, there are times when things don’t work according to plan. (…) I just felt that when we speak about bluffing, knowing how destructive he can be with the bat, why not take little singles when they are in your sight. It is of vital importance that you just work it around for the singles and take your twos and keep the strike rotating on a regular basis. When you are so destructive and spending time at the crease it is only a matter of time when you will come good, like we have seen it with Chris Gayle.”
“There is a time when you have a lull and there is a period of time when because of how good you are, you can take an attack apart if you spend time at the crease. So that’s the bluff factor that we were speaking about.”
Speaking further about the shortest format of the game and whether he would have played, he mused, “I don’t want to put myself in the picture, I played such a long time ago. The baton has been passed. I am just happy to see cricket in itself – batsmanship is in wonderful hands.”
Discussing how inventive batsmen have become in the present age, he said, “I am very happy for that because this game in my opinion, there is the power within the fieldsman. In T20 you have 120 balls to try and dispatch to whatever part of the field and if you miss more than half of those, which means dot balls, then you are going to be struggling to get any total that is going to be representative of your team. Batsmanship is all about hitting the gaps and if you cannot hit in the gaps, you clear the boundaries and we are seeing that today. I am very happy to see the modern-day player and to see that cricket is in wonderful hands.”
While talking about the role of an all-rounder and the fact that someone like Irfan Pathan is not performing to his potential, he said, “He is such a talented player, if I am correct in saying, he lost his place at one point in the Indian team but we should just be happy to see him back. He is working his way back, he is doing the thing that is necessary for him, to be where he is at present and doing justice to that enormous talent that he possess. As time goes by, we hope he finds the true form and stuff that made him who he was early on. And we can only hope for that in the remaining matches.”
Elaborating on his role he said, “Coming into the team and seeing exactly what is happening, one can remember days of solid pace before I got there. I am only trying to bring stuff from way back then into a situation, modern situation, and I guess with all the experience that you have on board and situations that we have now, it is going to be of vital importance how well we adapt to our roles and be totally receptive.”
It is a team that will be high on confidence; especially coming off back to back victories under their belt. A nail biting finish against the Pune Warriors India showed that the Kings XI Punjab were capable of keeping their nerves while chasing a huge target; and the dominating win against the Delhi Daredevils in Delhi showed that they have the bowling to restrict some of the best batsmen in the business.
Up next against them are the Kolkata Knight Riders who are not having the best of times this year in the IPL. A string of losses might have dented their confidence, but Kings XI Punjab coach Darren Lehmann was not willing to take their opponents lightly.
“We managed to get across the line against KKR the last time at home. But they are a very good side, tough to beat at their own backyard and we will have to play better than what we have done in the tournament. KKR should have won the last couple of games, and I suppose they lost them in the last moment. That is the nature of T20, but we will hope we get going. ”
Almost everything is going right for the Kings XI. Their domestic players are doing well and some of their overseas players are doing a good job too. Lehmann said there was a lot of scope for improvement though.
“We need our domestic players to keep improving and we also need our overseas players to keep improving. It is a team effort at the end of the day. We have got some really good players, young domestic players, experienced players, overseas players who are all doing their job at different times. The key for us is to bowl and field pretty well. The young players are a great bunch of lads to coach and they are good fun.” Lehmann also reserved praise for young Mandeep Singh who has been in top notch form in the tournament.
“I feel Mandeep is a very fine player. The biggest challenge for him is to be more consistent and make runs every time he plays. The last few games, he has been really good for us. If he keeps doing that, he can go a long way. He is a great young man. You want him in your side.”
The biggest worry however is the form of their captain Adam Gilchrist who has just 67 runs from seven games. “Gilly has led really well and kept wickets well too. We would obviously like more runs from him and he would also want to get a lot more runs. We will have to wait and see how he does,” said an optimistic Lehmann.
A lot was spoken about the availability of Shaun Marsh and the strength he adds to the Kings XI line up. But Lehmann said there were some injury concerns and the left hander will be out of action against KKR. “Shaun Marsh will not play on Friday. He is not fit yet. We tested him before, he is pretty close to recovery, but he will not feature against KKR. We have a couple of other injury concerns as well, but we will have to wait and see till match day how the rest pull up.”
Talking about injuries, KKR might miss out on the services of Jacques Kallis who is nursing a twisted knee while Manoj Tiwary is carrying an injured finger. There was no official confirmation coming on the availability of both the players yet.
When asked if the absence of the two players would prove to be an advantage, Lehmann replied, “We will be looking to beat the eleven on the field. If they are missing out on a good player, they will have a good player replacing him. We just approach every game and every opponent, as we should. There is no advantage. They have an advantage, because they are playing at home. The side that probably bowls well and adapts to the conditions better will come out on top.”