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‘Calm’ and ‘simple’ are the two elements that have helped Mohit Sharma succeed during his stint with the Chennai Super Kings in the Pepsi IPL. The medium-pacer says that his skipper, MS Dhoni’s, calmness helps the rest of the pack stay unruffled under pressure situations and perform.
The match against the Rajasthan Royals in Ranchi was another such example where the pacer held his nerve after being taken for a few runs. Struck for two boundaries in his first over, Mohit came back to beat Shane Watson. And while he was then hit for a six, heeding to his captain’s advice, Mohit claimed Watson off the very next ball.
The bowler with a sunny disposition keeps things simple. His mantra is to work and practice what he knows, what has worked for him, listen to Dhoni’s advice and not try to experiment too much.
Mohit, who claimed three wickets for 31 run to help restrict RR to 148, spoke to IPLT20.com after the win in Ranchi.
Excerpts from his interview:
After being hit, you came back to claim Watson who was on song. How do you keep yourself calm when hit for runs?
Staying calm is everything. That is what I have learnt from playing all these years and with Mahi bhai around, things become that much easier. He shows you how to remain calm under pressure. You will only feel the pressure when your captain yells at you. But here, the best thing is that he comes to you and explains where you went wrong. The six that Watson hit was actually my fault, given the nature of this wicket. Dhoni came and told me that on this wicket, which is slow, I shouldn’t have tried to bowl a yorker. He told me that back-of-length and normal length balls aren’t so easy to hit here. So he told me to bowl my normal back-of-length ball, which was good enough.
What are the few things you have learnt from Dhoni about staying calm?
I have learnt from him how to handle yourself under pressure and perform well. You saw how he took the team across the line with two balls to spare. That was awesome! Maja aa gaya (I enjoyed it!).
After the kind of start RR got, were you happy to have restricted them to 148?
It is a good score on this wicket. It wasn’t an easily gettable score, so we needed to bat well, and we did. In the beginning, Dwayne Smith got off to a good start, and then Faf du Plessis batted really well, and eventually Mahi bhai finished the game in his style. So that was good.
CSK went in to the match with two pacers and three spinners. What was the plan?
This was a slow wicket. It wasn’t going to be easy to score off the spinners on this track, so I think that could have been the reason why Mahi bhai used the combination.
Length deliveries got you two big wickets. How important is line and length?
Line and length matter in all formats of the game. Without that, you can’t really do much. Even if you are hit for a four or a six, you have to come back and bowl the right line and length.
What is about the slower one that gets batsmen out?
It actually depends on the wicket. The wicket here was slow, so if you cut the pace, it is not so easy for the batsmen to hit. If the wicket is such that the ball skids and is coming on to the bat, then the slower one will come on to the bat; I have been hit for sixes on the slower one as well. You should be able to adjust according to the wicket and understand on which wicket you have to bowl yorkers and on which wicket you should bowl the slower ones.
What new deliveries are you working on?
I keep working on the ones that I have and I try to be consistent with them. I don’t try and do anything too different. I believe in performing consistently and working on what I know and strengthen it further. There is no need to experiment too much in cricket. So I work to strengthen what I have been doing all these years.
How do decide on mixing your deliveries?
You have to decide according to the wicket. At the beginning of the match Mahi bhai tells us what kind of bowling will work better on a particular wicket, and we have to do that, and it works. There is no need to digress from that and try to do something different.
How do you prepare for a batsman like Shane Watson?
You have to make yourself tougher while practicing and bowl according to what has been discussed in team meetings. In the meetings, the weak points and the strengths of the batsmen are discussed. So you plan and bowl accordingly.
What do you consider as your main weapon?
Bowling according to the situation and the wicket is my main weapon, and hope I can continue to do that.
A lot of eyebrows were raised when Mumbai Indians retained Ambati Rayudu in their squad during the IPL Player Auction. But the fact remains that the franchise is ready to invest on a talent like Rayudu who has shown his mettle as a batsman in the past. Over the years, the 28-year-old from Andhra Pradesh has grown as a batsman and only looks to get better with each game.
On Monday night against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, he stitched a 130-run partnership along with Lendl Simmons to guide a clinical chase for the Mumbai Indians, earning them a much-needed win to stay alive in the competition. Rayudu rues the fact that he has not been able to convert his good starts into big scores and vows to work harder on that aspect of his game. In this chat with IPLT20.com, Man of the Match, Ambati Rayudu, opens up about his batting and his good show at a place that is very special to him – Hyderabad.
Excerpts from his interview:
A half-century the previous game and a match-winning knock to follow; happy the way you are batting?
(Smiles) I am happy the way I am batting right now. Initially, I was getting a few starts, but I was unable to get the big scores. It is something that I am working on. As a team, unfortunately, we have not been winning as many games as we would like, but it is good to see that all the players are actually coming back into proper form. It is just a matter of time that we start playing perfect games like we did tonight against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Every season is a different challenge and as a team we would hope to qualify for the Playoffs. You have been shuffled a lot in this batting order with the Mumbai Indians. How difficult is to bat at different positions?
I think you need to adjust and adapt as per the situation in this format of the game. In all these years with the Mumbai Indians, I have almost batted at every number. I believe if you are a good reader of the game and if you are not too rigid in the head, a batsman can bat at any position he wants.
Have you recognised areas that you need to work on, after batting for MI all these years?
It is a constant process of working at your game and getting better. I don’t think I am playing the same way as I have been playing since the start of my IPL season. There are few things that you would like to change. In the first few games of the season, you would know where exactly teams are looking to bowl at you and you try and improvise accordingly. You have to evolve as a cricketer and keep working at your game and find new areas to score runs.
There have been times when you have got your team to a good position, but given it away. How do you plan to finish more games for your side?
I don’t think there is a set rule or a pattern that you would follow to finish games. At times, when the game gets too easy, it gets a little difficult to finish because you tend to relax a little. Tighter the game goes, the better it is to finish. I will try and stay till the end and look to finish games for my side.
How was it to get a match-winning knock at your home ground?
I am from Hyderabad and it is a very special place for me. This is where I learnt and started playing cricket. To have played for Hyderabad and coming back to this ground is always special. I am happy I could play well tonight in front of my home crowd.
In your hometown, did you treat your teammates to a traditional Hyderabadi Biryani?
(Laughs) I got some Biryani yesterday afternoon for the whole team. Apparently, it looks like they have enjoyed a lot and it showed on the ground as well.