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“He is the best player in the world,” said RCB captain, Virat Kohli, at the post-match presentation when asked about AB de Villiers’ match-winning knock. Indeed it was an AB-solutely brilliant innings that lit up the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru and got the crowd clearing their throats for one of their favorite heroes. At one point when wickets kept tumbling at the other end, de Villiers yet again showed what a complete cricketer he is as he helped chase down 156 with all his might.
It was a nail-biting finish as the game went down to the last over with RCB needing four more runs for a grand homecoming. Right-arm medium pacer, Harshal Patel, was at the other end batting with AB in the final over and saw his ‘freak’ of a teammate take his side to a big win. In this free-flowing chat with IPLT20.com, Patel takes us through the tense last over of the match, and he even tells us why AB de Villiers is the toughest batsman to bowl to.
Excerpts from Patel’s interview:
What a chase! Your view of AB de Villiers’ knock?
What do I say! AB is a freak, man. What he can do on the cricket field, I don’t think anyone else can do that. I have no words to describe his brilliance.
As a bowler, do you think AB is the toughest batsman to bowl to?
I think he is the most difficult batsman to bowl to. To good batsmen, if you bowl decent yorkers or good deliveries, you can get away. But to AB, if you bowl a perfect yorker, you can still go for six. You are never sure where to bowl to him. You can only bowl and hope for the best.
Four required in the final over, Mitchell Starc gets run-out and you walk out to bat. Were you nervous?
To be very honest, I was surprised myself that I was under no pressure. AB was batting so well at the other end, I just had to get a single and get him on strike. All that AB told me in that last over was to be balanced and watch the ball and look for a single and run hard. I was pretty confident that once AB got the strike, the game will be over.
What is it about M. Chinnaswamy stadium that gets the best out of the Royal Challengers Bangalore?
As soon as we walked into this dressing room, the feeling was fantastic. We have won some great games in this particular ground and those memories were fresh in our minds. The crowd, the vibe and the whole aura of the venue is radiant. As soon as you step on this field, you feel you are on cloud nine. The chants of ‘RCB, RCB’ get the players going.
A wicket with a decent economy-rate in your first game this season. Are you satisfied?
I was preparing myself all these days and working very hard. I was waiting for that one opportunity to play for RCB this season and I am glad I got my chance tonight. I tried to make the most of it.
Your only wicket this game was that of Darren Sammy. Was there a plan behind his dismissal?
We did plan to mix it up to Darren Sammy. You can’t bowl two same deliveries to him. He is a strong hitter and even his mishits can go for a six. We didn’t want to be predictable to him.
Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh; does having such attacking batsmen in your team help you in becoming a better bowler?
Definitely! You just understand the mindset of the batsmen when you have players of that calibre in the dressing room. Yesterday, I was having a chat with AB about how he approaches the game and took a few inputs from him. With such interactions, you get to know the mindset of these batsmen and then you can find out ways to bowl in the right areas. It also helps in planning your over during a match.
How has it been working with your bowling coach Allan Donald? Have you taken a few tips on swing bowling from him?
I think more than any technical aspects we talk about the mental aspect and the attitude towards a game. We talk about how we approach the game on a given day and how to be aggressive on the field. The best thing about this group is that we all are aggressive on the field. Allan Donald always emphasises on being aggressive on the field and asks us never to take a backward step even if we bowlers go for runs.
The RCB pace attack is relatively young; do you have a leader of the pace attack during a match?
Mitchell Starc has been the leader of this attack since the beginning of the tournament. He has been bowling brilliantly. He has been bowling well in the beginning of the innings in the powerplay and two overs at the death. He has been the pick of the fast bowlers so far and is very confident. We bowlers exchange a lot of ideas on and off the field.
Your captain, Virat Kolhi, is he a bowler’s captain?
He is a very calm captain and doesn’t put you under pressure. He is very lenient on the field. If you want a field and you want to do something, he will let you do it. He is not someone who will tell you to do something else. He is a fantastic captain.
Pravin Tambe accounted for the crucial wickets of Kevin Pietersen and Quinton de Kock to help restrict the hosts, Delhi Daredevils, to 152 for five, after Rajasthan Royals opted to field first at Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium.
The crafty leg-spinner planned and claimed the dangerous DD captain ensuring that he did not capitalise on the life he had received earlier in his innings. Tambe then sent back the well-set de Kock. While Pietersen holed out to long-on, Tambe took a good return catch as de Kock looked drive the ball but ended up sending it back to the bowler.
While speaking to iplt20.com after the victory, Tambe talked about his bowling and his team’s effort during tonight’s game.
Excerpts from his interview:
How important was it to win the first match of the India leg?
All the matches are crucial. It was the first match of the India leg and we also had to adjust to the conditions and we did well. Everyone fulfilled their role well.
What was your plan for Pietersen?
His wicket was very important because he is a big player and everyone knows that. And if he stays at the wicket, he can turn things around for his team. We knew that he would target at least one bowler. I was the only spinner, so I thought he would target me. I knew the areas that I had to bowl in, and I bowled according to the plan and got his wicket. Will you elaborate on ‘the right areas’ you try to bowl in?
T20 is a game where even a small mistake will cost you. So I try and see that I don’t let the batsman swing the bat. If he tries to hit, then I would get his wicket. So I try to cramp the batsman; I try and work on that area. So when I pitched it in the right area and Pietersen tried to hit me, I got the wicket as he mistimed it and was caught near the ropes at long-on.
How did you set up de Kock, who had looked to take you on?
I wanted to bowl stump-to-stump and I knew that he would take his chances. He had been at the wicket for a long time and I knew that there was a good possibility that he would get out if he took the chance (by going after me).
Your catch to get him out was a good take
As a spinner, you have to practice in the nets to take those catches, and it is from there that we get the confidence of taking return catches. And today, I was able to take the catch.
What was your assessment of the wicket?
There was turn in the wicket, but it was up to the bowler how to bowl and utilise the conditions. This is Twenty20 cricket and if the batsman gets the opportunity, he will look to hit you for a six. You should know what areas to bowl in. What did you make of the 153-run target?
We had the confidence that the total was chaseable. The boundaries too were small.
What was the plan while bowling to JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav, given that they were the last recognised batsmen in the DD line-up?
In T20 anyone can come out and hit a few runs. So we had decided to stick to our plan and not try and do something different whether it was a lower-order or a top-order batsman. We work according to our plans.
A word on Karun Nair’s match-winning knock
Superb! He played the kind of innings that we wanted from him today. He showed his ability to play big knocks.