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Picture this: Nine required off six balls. Sunil Narine has bowled out his four overs and has been miserly as ever, conceding just 16 with the priced wicket of Virat Kohli to his name. The rest of the bowlers have been bowled out. Who do you turn to then? Vinay Kumar.
With a reputation for defending totals in the last over, Gambhir tossed the ball to him and the events to follow were unequivocally dramatic. Kumar held his nerves, almost got hit for a six, but was ably supported by a stunning catch by Chris Lynn, and at the end of it all, sealed a two-run victory for his side. The Knight Riders had secured a win out of nowhere, all thanks to some brilliance in the field and composed bowling at the end. Vinay Kumar, who held his nerves in the last over, was kind enough to have a quick chat with IPLT20.com after the game.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
How does it feel to snatch a thrilling victory like that?
It feels really great to win a thriller that went down till the last over. This was a very important game for us after our loss in the previous game. It was a much needed win for the team and we are happy that we came out winning at the end of it.
You have done this in the past in the RCB jersey. How did it feel doing the same for KKR against your former team?
I had successfully defended quite a few games in the last over last year. I am used to being under such tense situations and I try to get better with every outing. Even while practicing, I try to put myself into such situations during practice, which has helped me perform when needed.
Nine runs to get from six balls; what was going through your mind when you were asked to bowl the final over?
I just backed myself to bowl in the areas that were my strengths. At the start of my run-up, I told myself that I had to stick to my plans and bowl at the right length. I knew if I bowled in those areas – close to a hundred percent – then it would be very difficult for the batsmen to score runs. I backed my abilities and it paid off.
How did you plan to bowl to two power hitters in Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers in the last over?
I had different plans for different batsmen and I just bowled according to my strengths. I knew if I bowled to Albie to his strengths, then he would hit me out of the park. I needed to bowl in the areas that would make it difficult for him to hit. I varied my pace on the first ball to Morkel, then bowled at a good length to AB, and then bowled outside off to Morkel and got AB’s wicket off the next ball.
Did you have your heart in your mouth when you saw the ball soaring towards the boundary for a six off AB de Villiers’ bat?
I thought the ball had gone for a six. Chris Lynn took an amazing catch. I even thought that he had crossed the boundary line after taking the catch. He made sure that he was inside the boundary line. I would say it was an amazing presence of mind and a superb catch to turn the match on its head.
Has Wasim Akram given you a few pointers to bowl under such tense situations?
Working with Wasim Akram is a great feeling and I am learning a lot of things from a legend like him. He has helped me plan and bowl according to the situation. I am learning to bowl yorkers and I get some reverse swing, which will help my bowling in the future as well. Personally, what do you take from this performance?
This performance will help me become a more matured bowler and keep me high on confidence going into the remaining games. Hopefully, I can turn up for my team every time and put up a good show.
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.