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He hits the most stunning sixes with utmost nonchalance. And he utters the most profound words of wisdom in a casual conversation with a smile on his face. He has no qualms in acknowledging his special abilities and yet he wears an embarrassing grin when you call him a role model to the younger cricketers. That is the beauty of Virender Sehwag. He is confident without being cocky and genius without being complicated.
In the Kings XI Punjab camp, Sehwag dons many hats. He is the team’s senior most batsman, he is a man who is striving to regain his topnotch game, he is a mentor to the youngsters and he is the man who ensures everyone around him is as happy as he is.
We, at IPLT20.com had a chat with the man after his team toppled the Chennai Super Kings by 44 runs in Cuttack. He spoke about his own form and compared the hitting abilities of Glenn Maxwell with his own and those of Chris Gayle. And he gave us some simple, yet precious, pearls of wisdom.
Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview:
We saw a vintage Virender Sehwag today. Do you think you’re back at your best?
Not yet. The best is yet to come. I am striking the ball well and would like to continue to contribute to the team. I have been scoring 20s and 30s, but now it is time to score like the way Maxwell has been doing. Hopefully, in the coming games I will score big.
What do you think is the reason you haven’t been able to convert your starts?
Today, I was a bit unlucky; I got an edge and it went on to hit the wicket. In the coming games, I will try to be a little more careful and not do anything rash after getting a start and concentrate a bit more.
Young Maxwell seems to have taken a leaf from your book.
Absolutely! The kind of form he is in, it is so difficult to stop him. Nothing matters to him – the bowlers or the fielders or the boundary. I felt like he was playing book cricket and every time he opened a page, it was four or six. It has been great to watch him bat.
Does the way Maxwell bats, reminds you of yourself?
No, no. I was not that destructive. I was a bit, but not that much.
What do you like the most about his game?
I don’t think he is worried about his game; he’s more worried about golf and practises more golf than cricket. He just goes out there in the middle, gives his 100 percent out there and comes back happily with whatever he gets.
Who is more destructive when on song – Maxwell or Gayle?
I think Maxwell. He and Miller. If the two of them going, it becomes very difficult for the bowling side because if one misses a ball, the other makes up for it with a six.
There are many young batsmen in KXIP and surely they all must look up to you for advice. What role do you play in their games?
I speak a lot to the younger guys. We have some young Indian batsmen like Gurkeerat Singh, Wriddhiman Saha, Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra and even Pujara. They all talk to me about T20 cricket and how they can improve their game and what they should do to keep their game intact when they are not playing. I share my experience with them. It’s good to chat with the young players because it makes you feel young too.
Are there any young Indian batsmen in this IPL who have impressed you?
More than the batsmen, it’s the bowlers. Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma are the two guys who have impressed me the most. As far as batsmen are concerned, I really like the look of Suryakumar Yadav. He seems like a very good talent and if he continues to focus, he has the ability to score a lot of runs in the future and also maybe play for India one day.
Sandeep told me how you go out of your way, leave your batting to help him. Your thoughts?
That’s my job. If I see that any of my batsmen or bowlers is not doing well, not practising in the right manner, it’s my job to go and tell him that. Not only me, but all the senior players in the side do that. I don’t think there’s anything special that I am doing. It’s what every senior player should do.
What is the best thing about Sandeep’s bowling?
I like the fact that he can swing the ball in as well as take it away. Also, he has tremendous control over his bowling. For us, he has been very vital because he gives us early breakthroughs, in the first or second over, which is very important in this format.
All KXIP players I have spoken to have said that you are hugely responsible for keeping the dressing room environment positive and upbeat. Is that true?
Yes, I believe that you should always enjoy yourself off the field and try to give your best on the field. Once you do that, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you should be happy. My funda is that when you go out to bat, you are on zero. So, if you come back with one run, you should be happy about it. You look at Gautam Gambhir; when he got ducks in the first three innings, he was so nervous and depressed. In the next innings, he was so relieved to score his first run. And although he got out immediately, after that he has been piling on runs. So, you just have to accept whatever comes your way and be happy with it. Things change quickly.
Why doesn’t everyone think like you?
I am sure a lot of people do. Perhaps, you haven’t spoken to them yet.
The Delhi Daredevils had yet another disappointing match at the Ferozeshah Kotla when they lost to the Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets on May 7. It was their third successive loss at their home venue in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2014. Once again, it was JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav who had brought respectability to the DD total with their late onslaught. But the 161-run target was achieved comfortably thanks to Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir.
While the KKR openers made hay, Wayne Parnell was the only DD bowler who found some success – albeit a little too late in the innings. By the time the paceman trapped Uthappa leg-before, the Knight Riders were well on course to their target. He later accounted for Gambhir’s wicket, but by then the KKR captain had brought the team within 10 runs of victory.
After conceding 15 runs off his first over, Parnell toiled to keep the batsmen in check and returned with figures of 4-0-21-2. However, with little support from other the end and with the KKR openers in a destructive mode, his efforts went in vain as DD faced a massive loss.
Reflecting on this defeat while speaking to IPLT20.com, Parnell said that his philosophy is to keep things simple and focus on the next delivery.
Excerpts from his interview:
Why do you think the bowling attack is not clicking?
I don’t think one can blame the bowling unit. I think overall we are making mistakes at crucial stages with our batting, fielding and bowling. If we can improve by five percent in every aspect of our game, we will be really close to doing something special.
It was length deliveries that worked for you today after going for an expensive first over. What was your plan?
Every single ball was crucial. What has happened has gone and you need to focus on the next ball; that was my philosophy. Even if we go for runs in our first three overs, our last over can change the game.
What was your advice to the other pacers in the team?
The philosophy is just to keep things simple. Obviously, in a T20 match there is a lot of pressure, but Eric (Simons), Gary (Kirsten) and Rob emphasise on keeping things calm and simple.
What is your responsibility in this line-up?
I have bowled well in the last three games, but in Twenty20 you can bowl well in one game and then not do well in the next game. Just taking it one ball at a time and trying to keep things simple is my game plan.
Shahbaz Nadeem had done well for DD. But a spinner will be taken for runs by batsmen like Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir. How does the team plan to work around that?
He being a left-arm spinner bowling to a left-hand batsman, it was probably a little bit easier for Gambhir to hit him for runs. And then when he came in to bowl, Gautam was probably set. We have a good bowling line-up. But we are lacking about five percent, and once that happens, we can do something special.
What do you reckon would have been a good score on this wicket?
The batsmen have been doing their best. JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav showed again that they are class players and finished the innings really well. It is a little bit easier batting under lights; the ball seems to skid on nicely. I can’t really say what is a good score on this wicket because we have seen big scores being chased down in other games. So what is a good total on this wicket is hard to predict.