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It was only their second loss of Pepsi IPL 2014, when Kings XI Punjab were outplayed by Kolkata Knight Riders at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. Although they had defended a smaller total against the same opposition in their previous encounter, they could not prevent KKR from scaling the target on Sunday. On a largely forgettable night, one of the better performers for KXIP was Akshar Patel. The 20-year-old left-arm spinner conceded at the rate of five runs per over and finished as the most economical bowler for his side.
In an interview with IPLT20.com after the match, he mentioned that bowling to the likes of Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell in the nets has helped him work on his bowling. And while reflecting on the loss against KKR, he said that the KXIP bowlers conceded too many runs in the powerplay, and their batters did not capitalise on a decent start.
Here are excerpts from his exclusive interview:
On the loss
Of course, there is disappointment in losing a game, but you win some and you lose some; it is the nature of the game. But we will look to take the positives from this game and work our way forward. On where they fell short while batting
Well, while batting, we probably got a little impatient. We could have spent more time in the middle. We had got a got start from the openers, but the middle order fell away a bit. It happens – you have a bad day and good day. The other wicket where we scored 230-odd against CSK was good to bat on. But that is the nature of the game.
Whether the onus was on the bowlers in the KKR game
Yes, the onus was on the bowlers. In the last match against KKR also the onus was on our bowlers. We had set them a 133-run target back then; but we defended it. Today, our bowlers were a bit unlucky. We conceded too many runs in the first six overs, but overall, we were okay.
On the KXIP bowling attack that has a good mix of young and experienced bowlers
Yes, there is a good mix. Some of us have also played domestic cricket together, so we work together. It works out to be a good combination. The Australian fast bowlers back us and give confidence. We enjoy each other’s company, which is good.
On learning from senior spinner, Murali Karthik
He has played for India, and has played a lot of domestic and county cricket too. He helps me a lot. My action is a little different, so there isn’t much that he tells me about that, but he talks to me about things like mental strength and other such areas. It is good that at a young age I am getting the opportunity to learn from such experienced cricketers.
On bowling to the likes of Sehwag, Maxwell and David Miller in the nets
I benefit a lot from that. They are big hitters and when I bowl to them, I do so according to a field. That helps me a lot. And they tell me what a batsman might do while facing me, and so I learn a lot.
On coach Sanjay Bangar
He is an excellent coach. He teaches us and backs youngsters like Shivam Sharma, Rishi Dhawan and me.
On Maxwell, Sandeep Sharma and few others, including him, being on the emerging players list
It is good for us as well as the team that our names are on the emerging players list. It helps the confidence as well.
Three wickets for 19 runs in a T20 match are figures that most bowlers would be proud of. It is a sheer coincidence when you do that twice against a line-up that has been clobbering all other attacks – and it feels twice as good too. The bowler who has achieved this unique feat is Kolkata Knight Riders leg-spinner, Piyush Chawla, and his preferred opposition seems to be Kings XI Punjab. One of his key wickets on both occasions was Virender Sehwag.
However, it was Chawla’s overall contribution – that included the wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Rishi Dhawan as well – that helped restrict KXIP to a modest 149 and set the game in KKR’s favour. While speaking to IPLT20.com after the game, Chawla talked about his plans against KXIP and hunting as a pair with Sunil Narine.
Excerpts from his interview:
3/19 twice against KXIP is a happy coincidence. In addition, you claimed Sehwag both times. How did you plan for him?
It is a sheer coincidence, and a good one. I can’t even think of doing the same thing again and again. With Sehwag, I kept it very simple. To be very honest, the wicket was on the slower side, so I just thought that I just need to bowl in good areas, and the most important thing was to mix the pace. I knew Viru and Maxi (Maxwell) were going to go after me since they didn’t get as many runs as they wanted in the middle period. So I just had to keep it simple and had to follow my basics, and the most important thing was to believe in myself.
Was the plan to curb the flow of runs, create pressure and make the batsmen take risks?
As we have seen in most of the games, Kings XI have scored 190-200 runs. They are the kind of team who are not happy with 150 or 160 runs. So the plan was just to keep it simple and try to bowl as many dot balls as we can. What was the plan when you opted to bowl first?
Most of the players in their team are boundary lovers. They are not happy with scoring singles, so I was happy to go for six runs per over and bowl at their legs and just give them singles. I know that they are not happy with just singles.
How has your experience with Wasim Akram been? Have you got any tips from him?
He is always there to boost the confidence of a player. He has the kind of personality whose presence in the dugout boosts the confidence of the team. He has had a tremendous career.
What has it been like to bowl with Sunil Narine?
As we all know, Sunil Narine is a great bowler and he has achieved a lot in a span of three years. This is his fourth year with KKR and people are aware of what he can do, and they think that they will see his overs through and go after me. And as a result, sometimes I do get hit, and sometimes it gets me wickets.
Do you both hunt as a pair?
Yes, we do. It is very important. It is not only the case in batting where you bat in partnerships, but even in bowling. Because sometimes what happens is that you go for four runs, while your partner is hit for 10-15 runs. In such cases, the batsmen are garnering the runs they need and completing their task. Hence, you have to contain from both ends. I think Narine and I do that really well.
Do you think leg-spinners are carving a space for themselves this season more so than before?
To be very honest, in any format of the game to contain batsmen, you have to pick wickets. So that’s what I think most of us are looking to do. We are not worried about getting hit for sixes or fours; we are just looking to pick wickets. We are still the same bowlers with the same plans; it is just that previously it was going in the batsman’s favour, but now the results are in our favour.