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TheKolkata Knight Riders are all smiles after Kings XI Punjab registered a seven-wicket win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday. It has all come down to permutations and combinations in this edition of the IPL and if everything works as per plans of the Knight Riders, they could well get a sniff into that Playoffs spot.
KKR captain, Gautam Gambhir who addressed the media here in Ranchi, when the contest between RCB and KXIP was still underway said, his team would go and look to play professional cricket irrespective of the results of the other matches. “Being a professional cricketer, whenever you walk out on the field you go with a mindset to win,” Gambhir said.
“Irrespective of where we stand on the points table, at the end of the day you want to win a game of cricket. I do not know at what position we will end up at the end of these sixteen games. What is in our hands is to go out there, play professionally and win a game of cricket and we would look to do exactly that against Pune Warriors on Wednesday.”
It has been a dodgy tournament for KKR this season. There have been close finishes, wherein the results have not gone their way and at times the team has failed to click as a unit. Being defending champions there would have been a lot of expectations for them to recreate the same kind of performances like last year, but that has not quite happened for them.
Asked to pinpoint the reasons for KKR’s patchy performance this year, Gambhir said, “It is no guarantee that we will be champions this year because we were champions last year. The important thing is if you do not play consistent cricket, then you will be in the position we are at the moment. If all three departments of the game do not click together, you will not win matches. It is important to complement each other in all departments of the game. If you play inconsistent cricket, the results will not go in your favour.”
KKR will be playing their second game at Ranchi on Wednesday and will look to get a crucial win under their belt. A lot had been spoken about the nature of the wicket and it being low scoring strip.
Gambhir however thought otherwise. “In the last game, RCB scored 115 and the way they played on this wicket, we need to find out what mistakes they made. I do not think it was that bad a wicket that a team can score only 115. I feel it was a wicket where one could score 150. If you do not play good cricket, how can you blame the wicket. It was a normal wicket,” he said.
KKR however trudged their way to their target against RCB, and holding fort was Jacques Kallis who played the perfect anchor in the run chase scoring a patient 41. With an average of just 22 in fourteen innings in the tournament, Kallis has not been at his best.
For Gambhir though, Kallis was never a player out of form. “We never thought Jacques Kallis was ever out of form. For us he is a quality cricketer and if he does not do well with the bat, he backs it up with the ball and vice-versa. He gives us two things straightway and that is what helps as a captain to pick the right combination for the side and the luxury to pick your side. He is a great cricketer and it will never happen that he is out of form with the bat for long,” concluded Gambhir.
It has been one disappointing ride for the Pune Warriors India in this edition of the IPL. With just two games left to play, PWI coach Alan Donald spoke about how the team has been a well knit unit throughout the ups and downs in the tournament and looked forward to putting up two spirited performances in the remaining games.
“Even before the start of the tournament we discussed that this was a massive opportunity for the squad to prove their worth to a franchise that has been struggling over the last couple of years,” Donald said.
“One thing I cannot fault is that the team has stayed very tight throughout the competition though we have not produced the results. Hopefully in the next two games, players can produce results for Pune Warriors India and then for themselves. We need two great performances right now and hopefully they will step up at this beautiful stadium of Ranchi.”
Donald also said that as a coach he has tried his level best to motivate a group of players who have suffered more loses than wins in the tournament.
“As a leader of the group, I have tried extremely hard to motivate a group of players, but the toughest thing to get up from a dug out has been when you lose, which is hard to take. I have never been in such a position throughout my career and I can only try as hard as I can to motivate the team. I am still trying to find answers as to where we went wrong and I have never experienced a ride like this in the two IPL seasons we have had. It has been four games now and it has been a case of playing for pride. We are down to two, and it is up to us now to step up on Wednesday against KKR. We deserve to prove to the owners that this team can play.”
Rightly so, if you look at the team at disposal and see the quality of players in that line up, one cannot help but imagine how the team has had such a dismal run this season. Donald believed the marquee players have not performed to their prime which was so vital to a team’s progress. A special word of mention for Yuvraj Singh too was reserved by the coach.
“Yuvraj Singh has been fantastic,” Donald said. “He has kept up his attitude throughout this competition and he is a great example for everybody in the change room. There might be an argument that had Yuvraj scored, we would have won more games. But the bottom line is he has not scored and you cannot deal with it. A lot of our marquee players have not stepped up to the mark. You win the IPL when your big players step up and win you games. Yuvi has been an absolute legend in this IPL for us so far and one can only learn from that.”
And when Donald was asked about his assessment of young Bhuvneshwar Kumar ahead of the all important ICC Champions Trophy, Donald had nothing but heaps of praise for the medium pacer.
“I was very impressed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s skill levels since last year. He is in line for a long career in all formats of the game. He has had a long season and he is feeling a bit tired, but he is also getting ready for the ICC Champions Trophy. I think the biggest asset for Bhuvneshwar is that he wants to book his place in that Indian team and wants to become a legend of Indian cricket. That attitude takes you a long way. I know he will exploit the conditions for India if there is anything for him on the wickets in England. He is going to be a handful in that ICC Champions Trophy. India has got an absolute ‘little diamond’ that they have got to work with,” exclaimed Donald.