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When Muttiah Muralitharan made his Test debut, Chris Lynn had barely started walking. On Thursday night in his debut game for the Kolkata Knight Riders, Lynn gave a welcome to the bowling crease to the legendary spinner as if it were child’s play. A six off the first ball of the legendary spinner over midwicket hit one of the giant screens that displayed Muralitharan’s picture and bowling figures. Muralitharan’s figures had indeed taken a beating, thanks to Lynn.
An hour later, during Royal Challengers Bangalore’s chase of 151,Lynn took a stunner at deep midwicket to dismiss AB de Villiers,which directly affected the outcome of the game. One would fall short of adjectives to describe that acrobatic effort from Lynn, but sufficed to say, he had done very well in his first outing for KKR.
He was nervous when he was told he would play in the morning of the game. But Lynn ultimately held his nerves, and how! In this post-match chat with IPLT20.com, the man of the moment for KKR talks about his first game, his partnership with Jacques Kallis and the jitters he felt when he walked out to bat in a KKR jersey.
Here are excerpts from his chat:
Where were you hiding all these days?
(Laughs) I was just waiting for my chance. Kolkata Knight Riders have an amazing line-up, so it’s difficult to get a look in when you have so many amazing players ahead of you. I just wanted to try and do the right thing when I got a chance, and it paid off.
A 31-ball 45, a stunning catch and a win. How’s that to kick-start your Pepsi IPL 2014?
It is a brilliant feeling. It is my second game in the IPL, but my first game for my new franchise. To come out with a win in my very first game feels great. We were under the pump a little bit early on in the innings and the boys fought hard. I am glad we could win that thriller.
Take us through the stunning catch at that crucial juncture of the match to dismiss AB de Villiers.
I felt it was a well connected shot and it was a tough catch to take at that moment. I would have taken it comfortably had I stayed on my feet, I slipped a bit, but I clutched on to it at the last moment. I tried my best not to touch the boundary ropes and I am happy I could catch that one. Smiles)
Did you guys back yourself to defend 150?
We were not so confident with 150 and we were thinking along the lines of 180. But the ball got softer and the wicket slowed up, which worked in our favour. Sunil Narine and Vinay Kumar took the pace off the ball. I think the boys did a marvelous job to defend that total.
Were you nervous when you knew you would be a part of the playing XI?
Yes, I was pretty nervous this morning when I got told I was playing. I was also nervous when I walked out to bat, but once I got off the mark, the pressure was released. Once I hit my first boundary, I was even more relieved. I knew if I spent more time at the crease, the runs would come easy.
Did you ever imagine facing Muttiah Muralitharan as a budding cricketer?
To get to bat with Kallis and to get to face Muralitharan is an experience I won’t forget. You look back at these moments, not now, but when you retire, and you realize how fun it is.
And you did not give the warmest of welcomes to Muttiah Muralitharan, did you. Was it your plan to attack him from ball-one?
I had faced him twice before this in the Australian T20 tournament. He got me out first ball and then he got me out second ball in the other game that time. I just thought I am not going to sit there and allow him to get me this time. I had decided that I am going to try and take him on, and it worked tonight.
You had an 80-run partnership with Jacques Kallis after KKR lost two early wickets. How was it batting with him?
It is an unbelievable experience to bat with Jacques Kallis. He is so relaxed at the crease and so unaffected by pressure. He was calm and composed throughout the partnership. He is one of the greatest players and it is pretty cool to see how he goes about his batting.
You will be facing a lot of spinners as the tournament shifts to India. Did you ask Kallis for tips on how to play spin bowling?
Definitely! I went straight to Kallis because he is a right-handed batsman. He gave me a few pointers and I stuck to those. You got to have a plan while batting, otherwise if you walk out to bat just guessing, then the bowler has got your number.
Have you been given the license to play freely like a Glenn Maxwell for Kings XI Punjab?
Yes. I wanted to play my natural game and my intention was to go pretty hard at the bowling. Jacques Kallis was at the other end anchoring the innings, and it allowed me to play my natural game.
Mohit Sharma was one of the finds of Pepsi IPL 2013. His performance with CSK last year fast-tracked him to international cricket. This IPL, the young pacer from Haryana aims to not only maintain his good first impression but also take it a step higher by maturing into a consistent T20 bowler.
Bowling on the UAE wickets for the first time, Mohit is soaking in the experience. The 25-year-old is also enjoying the company of some of his new bowling mates at CSK and is trying to make the most of their experience.
After returning figures of one for 13 in two overs in CSK’s tight seven-run win over Rajasthan Royals, in Dubai, Mohit spoke to .
Here’s are the excerpts: The new ball was swinging under the lights. Happy to have batted first?
Yes, but having said that, the wicket wasn’t easy to bat on from ball-one. To begin with, they bowled really well. In the second innings, it became a tad bit rougher and it wasn’t easy hitting the back-of-length ball. I thought that was one thing that worked in our advantage.
The previous two matches were high-scoring ones. As a bowler, did you find this match more exciting?
As a bowler, I am more than happy if our top five bat the opposition out of the game (smiles). But yes, you see more fight in matches like this. Also, you cannot afford to relax even for a second in such games as the pendulum can swing very quickly. You cannot be casual even for a moment.
Happy that the fielding is back to the lofty standard you guys have set for yourselves?
Yes, that’s right. We had one off day in the field, and since then, we have been hard on that aspect in the practice sessions. Steve Rixon (CSK’s fielding coach) has been hard at work with the team and the result has been showing since the last two matches.
How does it feel having another young Indian fast bowler by your side in Ishwar?
Having Ishwar in the team has been really good for me because we know each other since the Under-19 days and are good friends. We understand each other as people and bowlers. That helps us both look after each other not only off but also on the field. We can give each other valuable inputs about one another’s bowling during the match.
How has Ashish Nehra been with you guys?
Ashu bhaiya has been very involved with Ishwar and me. In the nets, after finishing his own practice, he comes and supervises our sessions and gives pretty handy advice. From his own experience he tells us what to do in specific situations and what to avoid.
How is Ben Hilfenhaus’ presence helping you?
He is a very good swing bowler and he bowls consistently at a good pace. I have been learning many things from him like how to grip the ball perfectly in order to swing it and also how to swing the old ball. He is also very good at maintaining the ball so it swings in the latter overs.
Who is that one batsman from this CSK line-up you find most dangerous?
It is Mahi bhai. As a bowler, the first thing you are worried about is for him to hit the ball straight at you. After him, Brendon McCullum is the most dangerous.
How has your first experience been of bowling on the UAE wickets?
To be honest, it hasn’t been much different from bowling on the Indian wickets. This one, in Dubai, I found particularly similar to the ones in India. I think the key is to bowl back-of-length and stick to the basics of T20.
Do you sometimes feel like taking the Lahli wicket everywhere with you?
I actually don’t because I believe in order to be a reliable bowler, you have to be able to perform in every condition and any type of wicket. Also, even on helpful wickets, you have to run in hard and bowl well to pick wickets.