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A sea of yellow at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi was treated to some power packed batting and outstanding ground fielding by the Chennai Super Kings. A rain-curtailed match of 17 overs per side saw the Men in Yellow stamp their authority in all departments of the game. Their batsmen made batting look easy, while their bowlers were clinical in defending a total of 148.
Ravindra Jadeja spun a web around the Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen and ended up with figures of four for 12, which won him the Man of the Match award. Amidst Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliance with the ball and Brendon McCullum’s power hitting, one performance that may not have been spoken about much is that of Mohit Sharma. Match after match, CSK’s young seamer has been a silent performer for his side and is relishing the new-look CSK pace attack.
The Purple Cap has been changing heads, but at the moment, it sits pretty with Mohit Sharma whose three-wicket haul against KKR took him to the top of the wicket-takers’ list. With 11 wickets in six games, Sharma was happy to chat about his team’s first win in India and his bowling strategies with his captain MS Dhoni.
Excerpts from his interview:
UAE or India, CSK just keep on winning.
(Smiles) There is still a long way to go in the tournament. We are still in the middle part of the tournament. We have to work hard and keep up the good work.
After playing in UAE, did you prepare differently for the first game here in India?
I don’t think there was much of a difference in the wickets between here and UAE. Wickets back in UAE and the pitch that we played tonight were on the slower side. We didn’t want to experiment much. We just wanted to work on the slower side aspect of the wicket.
What was the bowling strategy against KKR, who played with eight pure batsmen in their side?
We did not look at their strengths. We only looked to bowl according to our strengths. The only thing that we had in mind was not to get causal till the last ball is bowled. And the good thing about tonight was that we never became casual throughout the game; be it the fielding or bowling or batting, we were right there.
Do you think Ravindra Jadeja’s two back-to-back wickets in his first over was the turning point of the game?
Jadeja’s bowling was exceptional and his spell gave us a stronger hold of the game. To pick two wickets in one over is outstanding and I guess that put KKR on the back foot. There was still Robin Uthappa at the crease for them and we knew he would score if he got stuck in the crease for too long. After that we just had to finish off the job well. Credit to Jaddu for the way he bowled.
Were you surprised to see Shakib Al Hasan slog the very first ball he faced?
Not at all! We had seen even in the T20 World Cup that he used to slog the left-arm spinner or the leg-spinner in his very first ball. It is his strength and he has been effective in the past. I had an idea that the ball could come to me and I was ready for the catch.
You have been using the slower one that comes from the back of the hand to good effect. Is it one of the biggest strengths in your bowling?
It is definitely one of the deliveries that I use a lot. I have been bowling the slower one since a long time. The slower one has begun to prove more effective because the wickets have been on the slower side. Hopefully, it continues to get me wickets in the future as well.
How do you plan to use the slower one while bowling?
I use the slower one according to the batsman. There is also a knack of bowling that slower one and using it according to the situation. When the batsman is on a roll and trying to hit you outside the off-stump, you need to bowl the slower one at a proper line and length that could make it difficult for the batsman to connect. Dhoni bhai makes me understand all these things, like which batsman is moving which way and how I have to bowl my deliveries, which is of great help.
The ground fielding has been exceptional. Is there a competition within the side to be the best fielder in the team?
There is a healthy competition within the team to be amongst the best fielders in the side. We are always behind each other to see who takes a good catch or who effects a run-out. We have been practicing really hard during our drills and we are glad that the results are there to be seen. The fielding standard only gets better with some good competition within the side.
With Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have one of the most dangerous top-orders there can ever be. However, their first few matches in Pepsi IPL 2014 gave an impression that there is little or no solidity to bind the team together if two of the mighty three fall cheaply.
To remedy that situation, SRH management took a punt and sent the young Lokesh Rahul at No.3, above David Warner, to play the anchor of the innings. The 22-year-old was surprised to have been given the promotion, but in the end, he proved the SRH think tank was right.
Rahul played his part perfectly, scoring 46 off 40 balls and putting up a 111-run partnership with David Warner (65) for the third wicket. After SRH’s thrilling 15-run win over MI, Rahul described his new role in the side and revealed what he wishes to borrow from the Sunrisers’ top-three and add in his own batting.
Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview:
You were promoted at No.3 today and you totally vindicated the decision.
The team management showed a lot of faith in me by promoting me up the order. They told me yesterday that they were planning to send me one-down, although I felt that I have been scoring at a run-a-ball and it is not enough in the T20 format and so I will be pushed further down the line-up. But the coach told me it is okay for me to play my game and take my time. He said batting at No.3 my role would be to rotate the strike and help the team lay a solid foundation so that people like Warner and Sammy can build on it. I am glad I could do that today. In the last couple of games, I got 20s and 30s and threw my wicket away, which wasn’t helping the team. I was sent higher up the order so that I have more time to pace my innings.
What is it like to watch someone like David Warner bat at the other end?
It’s thrilling! I would sit at home and watch the Ashes, I watched the Australia-South Africa series where he demolished the Proteas. I hoped some day I could bat like him and today I got a chance to build this partnership with him in a very crucial game. For a youngster like me there’s so much to learn. In the training, it’s different. It’s in a real match, you get to learn how players like him plan their game, target the bowlers and what runs in their mind.
What is it that runs in his mind? What did you guys talk about during your partnership?
People who watch him bat think David Warner is just an aggressive batsman who goes bang bang bang. But in reality, there is a lot of thinking and planning that goes in his innings. Today, he took his time initially before upping the ante. He believes in his ability and knows he will make up with big hits later in the innings. He’s among those players who can score 20 runs off an over at will.
Does he bat right-handed in the nets as well?
I think he batted better than I did right-handed. I was struggling to get Malinga away and there he goes, takes him on batting right-handed and smashes him over what could be a third-man for a right-hander. We’ve seen him bat right-handed in the nets and he really puts in a lot of work in that aspect. He doesn’t just play right-handed but smashes the ball hard. To generate that kind of power with your wrong hand is simply amazing!
What is that one thing each that you’d like to take from the batting of Shikhar, Finch and Warner?
With Shikhar it’s about how calm he keeps himself in any situation. Also, the cut and the shots he plays over point and cover are wonderful. FInchy is someone who can hit the ball very hard. I haven’t seen many people hit the ball as hard as he does. He has a great balance at the crease, has a strong base and then launches himself. That is something that I would like to pick up from Finchy. As far as Warner goes, I’d love to be able to bat left-handed and smash the ball as hard as he does batting right-handed.