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The Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers helped set up the match in their team’s favour by restricting the Mumbai Indians to 141 at Cuttack. While the spinners kept the opposition batsmen on a tight leash, pacer Morne Morkel gave the team an early breakthrough with just 12 runs on the board, and later, picked up the important wicket of Corey Anderson.
The tall South African fast bowler, who finished with two wickets, spoke about the importance of having the right mindset and good body language while bowling during his post-game chat with IPLT20.com. He also talked about his preparation going forward.
Excerpts from his interview:
These are must-win matches for KKR. How much pressure do you feel? How do you cope with it?
Like you said, it is a must-win game. It was important for us to close the chapter tonight and move forward and take it game by game, ball by ball and not to look too far ahead.
Was the way you had played against KXIP one of the reasons to opt to bowl first today?
We had a slight advantage playing and knowing the conditions here. But still, it was equal for both the sides. And the way our spinners bowled tonight was unbelievable.
How do you prepare for pitch like the one you played on?
It is definitely in my advantage if the wickets are keeping a bit low. I like to develop and be seen as a bowler who can bowl in all sorts of conditions and not only on bouncy tracks. I will take the result tonight; I am happy with that.
How do bowlers adapt to the different wickets in a tournament?
It has to do with the planning that we do beforehand. You get a feel for the conditions and we communicate during the innings amongst the bowlers and we discuss what type of tactics to go with. And I think that is the key for us to keep communicating as the bowling innings goes forward about what works and what doesn’t work. How do you decide what kind of lengths to bowl to batsmen and how to prepare for bowling to someone like Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard?
It just depends on the wicket. They are always going to hit good shots as they are quality players. So it is about reading the conditions quite early and making a decision and backing it. It’s largely been a batsman's game this season. How does a fast bowler then look to keep a hold on the situation?
I think it is always going to be a competition between the bat and ball. It is important for us as bowlers to keep calm and focus on our bowling ball-by-ball.
Do you focus on taking wickets or restricting the flow of runs?
I think it is a bit of both. I think it is important for me to have an aggressive mindset, and to think wickets, but not bowl for wickets. I don’t really bowl for wickets, but I think wickets.
How important is intimidating the batsman for a fast bowler?
Body language is the key. Intimidation is one thing, but I think it is key to have a good body language.
What bowling tips has Wasim Akram given you?
The thing that I am working on with Wasim is to keep hitting the crease and to get in good position at the crease. If I am in a strong position at the crease, then the ball will do the work for me.
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.