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“Naman” literally means paying respect or greeting someone. And surely, the KXIP bowlers were greeted, but not with respect when Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Naman Ojha was wielding his willow. Sent in to bat at No.3, Ojha, along with David Warner, stitched together an 81-run partnership to get the Sunrisers to a formidable total of 205.
The thousands, who had braved the heat, got their money’s worth as Ojha went about hitting sixes at will. The Kings XI Punjab bowling attack had been bulldozed and Ojha had taken centre stage as he cleared the fence on seven occasions. He brought up his first half-century of IPL 2014 for his new franchise and remained unbeaten till the end of the innings. His side did end up on the losing side, but Ojha believes that his side had given their 100 percent and they will now try to come back stronger.
In this post-match chat with IPLT20.com, Ojha speaks about the batting freedom given to him by the Sunrisers and his wish to bat often at No.3.
Excerpts from his exclusive chat:
After your innings, you would have obviously loved to win.
I enjoyed my batting a lot today. I would have loved it even more if the result had gone our way, but things like these are a part and parcel of the game, and one needs to move on. We know we gave our 100 percent on the field and we are happy with that.
Batting at No.3 is a big responsibility. What was the message from the dressing room when you were asked to walk out to bat at one-down?
Our coach, Tom Moody, asked me to play as freely as I could. He also told me not to get into any kind of pressure or get into a though that I had to get a lot of runs under my belt. He just advised me to focus on the day and play with a lot of freedom. I had a good opportunity today and I am glad I made good use of it. I was just asked to be positive and back myself.
You have played at different positions for the Sunrisers this year. Do you think the No.3 position suits you the most?
I would love to continue batting at No.3. I am enjoying that responsibility of building an innings and scoring when needed the most. When I play at No.5 or 6, it gets difficult to hit from ball-one, whereas I have the time to shape my innings when I bat at the top. Bowlers at the death, at times, bowl in the block hole, which gets difficult for a batsman to hit; whereas, at the top of the innings when the field restrictions are still on, there is a scope to score more freely.
You have batted with David Warner a few times this season. What are the things that you have noticed and would like to learn from him?
I think it is a pleasure to bat with David Warner. He is a very busy player who always looks to take a lot of singles and doubles while batting. He also hits the odd six or boundary every now and then, which takes away a bit of pressure from whoever is batting with him. While batting with him today, we did not discuss much; we only believed in playing to the merit of the ball. Our thought process was simple tonight – if the ball is there to be hit, hit it or else take singles and keep the scoreboard ticking.
Glenn Maxwell was in full flow even today as he has been throughout the tournament. What have you learnt by watching him bat?
It is a good learning curve and a joy to watch the way Maxwell plays. There is a lot to learn, given the way he bats and the way he gets into various positions while hitting those sixes.
When playing for South Africa, Imran Tahir is easy to spot. A streak of highlighted hair, delightfully innocent wicket celebrations and the fact that he is a leg-spinner! In the Delhi Daredevils camp, he gets the best of both worlds. In Gary Kirsten, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock, Tahir has his mates from back home. And owing to his Pakistani heritage, he is at home with the Indian boys, conversing with them in fluent Hindi.
The only thing Tahir would like to change about his first IPL experience is his team’s results. But even in the tough times, he is soaking in all that the tournament has to offer, he said during his conversation with iplt20.com after DD’s 16-run loss to RCB in Bengaluru.
Tahir also told us what it means to be a leg-spinner in the T20 format and described Kevin Pietersen, the man and the player.
How has this IPL experience been for you so far?
It has been fantastic. I knew before I came here that it is going to be a huge challenge. I got a bit of a pounding today but hats off to Yuvraj; he played an unbelievable knock.
When you first set foot in the DD room, what was it like?
What struck me first in that change room was how positive the vibe was. The team is struggling with the results and it has been very hard on everyone in there because things haven’t gone the way they were planned. But yet there is so much positivity in there.
Did the presence of Gary Kirsten and a couple of your other South African mates like Duminy and de Kock make it easier for you to settle into the new team?
It did but I had one more advantage. Since I speak Hindi, the cultural and linguistic barrier with the Indian boys was instantly broken. On their part, everyone in the team made me feel welcomed and that made my life very easy.
How did this contract happen?
It happened very quickly. My wife and I recently had a baby boy, Gibraan, and I was changing nappies at home. But then Nathan Coulter-Nile got injured and I was told I might get the opportunity to come here and play for the Delhi Daredevils. And here I am. I want to play for my baby boy because he is the lucky charm.
This IPL has been a season of the Indian leg-spinners. Have you watched many of them? Any favourites?
I thought the young guy we played against today (Yuzverndra Chahal) is really good. I think he has got very good control over his deliveries and although the wicket didn’t help the leg-spinners today, he showed how special he is by foxing a great batsman like Kevin Pietersen with turn and getting him stumped.
As a leg-spinner yourself, do you think you guys are a gamble for captains in the T20 format?
Having a leggie in his team will excite any captain, although you wouldn’t want one in your side on a wicket like this one. But overall, they are an exciting option for the captain because they give you variations, can change the game quickly and are not loath to trying out different things despite the risk of being hit. Chahal, for example, went for runs today but he got Pietersen out with that beauty. That’s the excitement a leg-spinner brings to the game.
Do you have to make extra effort to not get disheartened when hit for a few in this format and let your bowling get flat?
We always have to remind ourselves that we cannot afford to be disheartened. We need to stay positive and continue doing what we do best.
How is Kevin Pietersen as a man and a captain?
I really think he is a wonderful guy, and I am not saying this because he is the captain. I know him since the days I played with him in South Africa and I can say that he is a very easy going guy. I can discuss anything with him. He is one of the main reasons why the Daredevils camp is so positive despite not winning games and everyone is grateful for that. To boot all that, he is a great player too.