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As the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 turns towards the business end and the points table starts firming up, theDelhi Daredevils will play their last home game when they take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
The franchise, which made it to the Play-Offs last season, has been struggling to cross the finish line in the sixth edition of the premier tournament. After a string of losses they have been in the bottom half of the points table and will be playing for pride in their remaining matches.
The team has however worked hard to put up a fight. While speaking to the media after practice at the Feroz Shah Kotla, pacer Siddharth Kaul who has also got an opportunity to display his skills in the last couple of games said that the team is keen to win and is focusing on playing good cricket.
Asked about keeping themselves motivated and picking up after losses he said, “Every player wants to win and all teams want to win but only one team can win so we keep our focus and give our hundred percent. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn’t. So all we want to focus on is to play good cricket.”
Speaking about the opportunities that can be given to players he said, “I can’t decided who should be given the chance to play from the bench strength. But a good team is playing and the atmosphere in the team is good and one should also take into consideration see who is playing well... one who is playing well will definitely play”.
Asked of about his own goals and whether he looks forward to being picked for India ‘A’s tour to South Africa and whether he is working towards that, Kaul said, “I treat all games the same. I don’t see too far ahead and my goal is not whether I will play in the Champions Trophy or go on the India ‘A’ tour. My job is to perform and that is what I try to do.”
Asked if the presence of Sir Vivian Richards is benefiting the batters in the side more, the youngster said, “You will note that Sir Viv Richards has a lot of positivism and it spreads to everyone. You can’t say that it he is helping the batsmen or any particular individual. What you should see is how he motivates players, which is better and more beneficial.”
Asked if they will look to beat RCB and make things a little difficult for the opposition as the tournament approaches the Play-Offs, he said, “There is no such thinking. Both teams want to win but only one will win, so we shall be confident and play positively like we have been playing. We haven’t been clicking at times and we have had close games. We go to play not to think about making things difficult for someone else or how it will affect other teams”.
Asked how he has been planning and preparing to bowl to the likes of Chris Gayle and others he said, “He is also a human being. So according to me if you bowl a good ball he will be out and if you bowl a bad ball he will hit you for runs. “ “I will go out there and do what I have been doing and see what the results are!”
Speaking about bouncing back from a defeat like the one against Kings XI Punjab, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik said, “IPL is a roller coaster ride. We had a good run and unfortunately for us one innings in a situation where nobody in their wildest dreams thought somebody could do play an innings like that happens. At the end of the day, as professionals you are used to such things. It happens once in a while and the strength of character is to bounce back and I think we have that, we have shown that, we have done exceedingly well so far. If somebody were to ask us, if we are happy to be in this position right now, we are in a good position so I don’t think it should be a problem.”
Although they have won all their home games, the Challengers have had a poor run in their away games. Reflecting on their losses in the away games, the senior bowler elaborated, “I think that is the way the IPL has panned out this year. It is difficult sometimes to put a finger on it. We have had our own introspective analysis as to some of the games where we have lost. CSK was something which we are still trying to figure out how it happened and MI was a misnomer. They played really well to get to 194 and we couldn’t chase it down. It is one of those situations. The game against Rajasthan Royals could have gone either way. If you look at other games, I think it is only the Mumbai Indians contest. As is said it has been really difficult to put a finger to it. We have had a look at how things have happened or panned out in those games.”
So would the Daredevils be another opportunity to win an away match since the hosts have lost a few games at home. Kartik’s take was, “Can anyone say that any team will take any other team lightly? As cricketers we don’t take anyone lightly. The Daredevils are a very good team and it is another matter that sometimes there is a year when a team doesn’t click or things don’t work out. But at the end of the day when you are in the top and some other team is below they can hurt you. You are more aware of a wounded tiger then somebody who is hale and hearty. I don’t think even in our wildest dreams we will take somebody lightly.”
Of his own team and if RP Singh’s bowling has been a concern sometimes, he said, “If you are bowling a crucial over and it doesn’t go your way, people are always going to point fingers at you. But at the end of the day if you take all the games he has had before, like the three for thirteen (against RR) he has started off brilliantly. These things happen. When somebody is entrusted with a crucial over he will either be the hero or get blamed, so it is one of those things.”
Speaking about their batting and whether there is dependence on Chris Gayle, he explained, “I don’t think it is exactly like that but obviously Gayle is a big influence. A destructive batsman like him, who plays like he does... we talk about Virender Sehwag, because they are players like that, of that caliber. So obviously teams do depend on the starts that they can provide, their performance to a good extent, but it is not like RCB has won all the matches because of Gayle alone. There have been times when Gayle got out early and AB de Villiers batted. Initially Virat Kohli was the Orange Cap holder and at that time Gayle hadn’t made so many runs and was behind him in the run-getters list. It is wrong to say that we are entirely dependent on him but also it is not the exact opposite. We depend on him to give us the kind of starts which only he can give. So he is a factor. His is a wicket which every team wants. So we can say it is partially true.”
What is it like for him, as a bowler, to watch such innings as Gayle’s, or being at the receiving end of it? Kartik said, “It is never pleasant even when I was sitting in the dug out or sitting in the pavilion looking out at what Chris Gayle was doing. You feel bad for the bowlers. I have always been a bowler’s persona and it has never been a pleasant thing. As bowlers you always get blamed because we are ones who go out in the nets and get hit by the batsman and the same happens in the match as well. So as Anil (Kumble) rightly called it we are ‘Cattle Class’.”
Discussing batting further and the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Rahul Dravid successfully scoring runs without appearing as destructive as Gayle, he stated, “Twenty20 is all about hitting but at the end of the day the kind of shots which they have played have been cricketing shots and there have been aggressive cricketing shots. There is a place for everything. Everybody have their own choice and they have got their own game plan on how to go about it. I can’t bat like Gayle, Rahul Dravid cannot bat like Virender Sehwag and vice versa. So you have to look at what you can do to make your game better in T20 cricket and that is exactly what Rahul and Cheteshwar and all these classical players have done.Somebody like a Sanju V playing the inside out shot consistently, it is a very classical shot so guys have adapted, looked at what they can do within their own game plan.”
While speaking about the role of Zaheer Khan and his influence although he is yet to play a game, Kartik said, “He is someone who has always done a back room job. He always talks to all the young seamers whether it is during the game, after the game or during practice. The likes of Abhimanyu Mithun or Jaidev Unadkat, RP (Singh) keep having a chat with him and he is always there mentoring them with all that experience. He is always there doing a back room job.”