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A tall, lean Australian fast bowler who can get the temperatures to soar with a fiery quick, sharp bouncer – Ben Cutting had his first taste of the IPL in Ahmedabad, in the Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Daredevils contest. And it was a rather interesting outing, filled with mixed performances but ending in a win.
The match started for him when RR’s stand-in captain, Steve Smith – Shane Watson missed the match with a niggle – promoted him in the bating order at No.6, ahead of himself and James Faulkner. Cutting scored eight from six before getting run-out.
With the ball, he sent down a few short deliveries and some wide ones in his first over, before gaining his rhythm with the in-swinging yorkers, one of which got him his first IPL wicket – Imran Tahir, clean bowled. He returned with figures of 4-0-31-1.
After the Royals’ comfortable 62-run win over the Daredevils, Cutting spoke to IPLT20.com about his initial experience in the big league and his mixed bag performance on his IPL debut. Here are excerpts from his interview:
Your first IPL game. Had fun?
Had a lot of fun. It was nice to get one out of the way because I’ve been here a couple of times and it’s good to finally play my first IPL game.
Were you surprised when Steve Smith sent you in to bat ahead of himself?
We had spoken about it before the game and that decision was part of our game plan, which depended on how the wicket was going to play. Smithy is a wonderful batsman and to leave him in the shed says wonders about the boys batting in the top order.
Did batting first on this pitch help you form your bowling plans better today?
Definitely, yes. We sort of knew how the wicket was going to play from the past two games here; we knew it was going to get worse. Today, we lost the toss, but we still got to bat first on the deteriorating pitch. So, we were very happy with that.
One of your biggest strengths as a bowler is the quick, sharp bouncer that you bowl. Does it get difficult when you’re bowling in conditions that negate your strengths?
It can, sometimes. But in saying that, most wickets in India are actually conducive to the odd bouncer. A little bit more grass on this wicket and we could get the odd one to rise. Sometimes, when you bowl short on these sorts of wickets, it can actually be harder to play than it is on a true wicket, where the batsman can use your pace. Your first over was a little sketchy with a few short and wide balls. But then, you were right on the money, bowling those in-swinging yorkers. Improved through the course of the four overs?
Yes, it was also a case of a bit of nerves. This was the first cricket game I had after four-five months. I am happy that the rusty beginning was followed by a few good things in the game. James Faulkner is becoming a bit of a specialist when it comes to bowling on these wickets, especially in the death. Do you talk to him in that regards?
I have, actually. He’s been here for a while now, has played a few IPL games and done very well. So, it makes sense for me to pick his brains when it comes to bowling on these pitches in the end overs.
At times, do you feel like you’re in one of your Aussie teams?
Without a doubt! And it’s not just because of all the Australians round. This is a Royals family and I think we’ve got something special going on here. Credit not only to us players, but also our owners and the support staff in the way we have managed to come together as a group and translated that in our on-field performance.
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.