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What score is safe against Kings XI Punjab? The answer is as vague as their opponents’ bowling plans. When Maxwell fails to fire, Miller does the needful. And when both decide to take a back seat, there is a Virender Sehwag who will bludgeon opponents. And when these three are not scoring, you have a few priceless gems in the line-up that get the job done for their side. Wriddhiman Saha is one such gem, who has played with a lot of aggression when presented with an opportunity. He blazed his way to a 26-ball 54 to set the perfect platform for a huge run-chase of 206 against SRH.
A new entrant to that batting cube is young Manan Vohra. When the youngster was retained by KXIP in the 2014 IPL Player Auction, many questioned the move thinking that he could have been bought back for a reasonable price. However, the fact remained that the team management had a lot of a trust in the 20-year-old’s abilities and his potential longevity in the big league. In his very first outing of the season, Vohra showed no signs of nerves as he raced to a 20-ball 47 while opening the innings. He was unfortunate to get run-out while on song and that disappointment was palpable when he spoke to IPLT20.com. However, he also talked about his innings, the vibe in the KXIP dressing room, and not surprisingly, Glenn Maxwell.
Excerpts from his interview:
Manan, where were you all these days? Why were you held back for so long?
I think the coaching staff and the management would have had something in mind behind the move of playing me so late in the tournament. Having said that, the team combination was really good and it was working fine. I guess today was the day destined for my chance to showcase my game and I am glad I could put up a meaningful contribution.
When did you get to know that you would be playing against the Sunrisers Hyderabad?
Yesterday, during the practice session, the coach gave me a hint that I could be playing the game and asked me to be ready. The only message I was given in the team meeting today was to believe in my abilities and keep calm.
You are one of the players retained by KXIP. Was there a bit of pressure to perform while going out to bat?
To be honest, there was a lot of pressure, but I took it as an opportunity. I knew if I do well from here after being retained, then my graph can go really high. Were you more eager than ever to perform, especially after sitting out all this while?
To be honest with you, I was just waiting for one chance to go out in the middle and play. It was a bit frustrating to be out of action and watch the team perform from the sidelines. It is a great opportunity for young boys like me to come out and do well here. I was waiting for this day badly and I am glad I got the chance today.
A 20-ball 47 – not bad for your first IPL outing of the season.
Last year I played in my first game – at that time too I had a good outing. I was confident that I could do well the moment I got a chance to play for the Kings XI this season.
How did it feel to hit one of the best fast bowlers in the world – Dale Steyn – for two sixes?
The first ball that I faced of Steyn, I could not move my feet. I was afraid of him. I told myself that there was no point getting scared and I had to play him. I had practiced playing a lot of short stuff in the nets, and when he bowled short to me, I decided that I would back myself and go for my shots. It worked.
What is a safe score against KXIP? You guys seem to be chasing even 200-plus totals with ease.
I think the credit needs to be given to the whole team. All players have been working really hard and we are just glad that we are rising up to face any situation that is thrown at us. We have such a strong batting line-up that we feel confident of chasing even the biggest of totals. We are having a good time and we would want to continue the good work in the future as well.
What is the mindset of the KXIP batsmen while chasing daunting totals?
The team management believes in our hitting abilities. The general thought is to spend as much time possible in the middle. And almost everyone in the side has the capability to win the match for the team. That is the thought that we go in with when we walk out to bat. Virender Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller – how much of a motivation is it for a youngster like yourself to have players of such calibre in the dressing room?
By having players like them, the job for the youngsters becomes a lot easier. There is no pressure on us to perform since we know they will cover up and score at a brisk pace. We have just been asked to go and enjoy ourselves on a given day, which helps us to do well. How often do you trouble Maxwell for batting tips?
He is too good a player and a very aggressive hitter. The way he approaches the game is brilliant. He backs himself every single time and that is something I want to learn from him. He has only one style of playing, and we all know what that is.
Is it something that you want to replicate?
I don’t think I can replicate that. Plus, I enjoy playing the longest format of the game. I am still young and I would want improve my technique and get accustomed to the Test style of playing.
“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.