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Facing a steep 196-run target in a must-win game against the Kolkata Knight Riders, the Royal Challengers Bangalore needed to go out all guns blazing. And while they lost Chris Gayle with just seven runs on the board, his opening partner, Yogesh Takawale, worked hard to his keep the team in the fray.
Playing for the first time in the India leg of the Pepsi IPL 2014, he opened the innings in the high-pressure game and was involved in an 85-run stand with Virat Kohli. After surviving a tough chance while on seven, the opener scored 45 off 36 balls in a fighting effort, which, unfortunately, could not see his side home.
Reflecting on the match while speaking to IPLT20.com later, Takawale said that Virat Kohli and he were focusing on the building a partnership and were hoping to create a platform from where Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers could take RCB across the line.
Excerpts from his interview:
On his knock
It was another good opportunity for me after the UAE leg where unfortunately I got out early in two innings. After that, I kept telling myself that there are still matches in hand and whenever I get an opportunity I will try and do my best. Today, I made fewer mistakes as compared to the previous innings and therefore I think I played better today.
On the brief given to him when he went out to open
We all knew that since we have to chase 196, we need a good partnership – either opening or in the middle order. If Virat and I had been able to bat till the 15th over, then I think the result would have been different. We had decided to play each delivery on its merit and not think too ahead.
On his plan after getting a life while on seven
When I got a second chance, Virat and I decided on making the most of it and build as big a partnership as we could. And we knew that Yuvi and AB, who are to follow, can score 60-70 runs in the last five-odd overs if required. And so we decided to stitch a partnership and knew if we have wickets in hand, we can build on that and accelerate later.
On what RCB was hoping to restrict KKR to
When they were three down (56 for the loss of three wickets), we thought that we can restrict them to 160-170 runs.
On how much he enjoys batting in T20s, given that he is an attacking batsman
Every format is different and you have to take responsibility, adjust and play accordingly. I enjoy batting in T20s. You have full license to create a shot and respond to a decent delivery. When you score big runs, it boosts your confidence.
On being part of the RCB dressing room
I consider myself fortunate that I could open with a batsman of Chris Gayle’s stature and play with India’s vice-captain, Virat Kohli. I am very happy to have got the opportunity play with him.
It is up to you to watch them – the likes of Gayle, Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, AB de Villiers – and learn. Everyone has a different role and different game. I think taking responsibility is very important. I have gained a lot of confidence and I will look to cash in on whatever opportunities I get.
He went unsold in the 2014 IPL Player Auction. Then, with the tournament halfway down, Lendl Simmons was called up by the Mumbai Indians to replace their uncapped player, Jalaj Saxena. Hence, the West Indian batsman made his IPL debut.
His IPL career of five matches so far looks like this: 38, 68, 12, 62 and 100* – the last one coming in a win against Kings XI Punjab in a perform-or-perish match for MI. It was also a game where Pepsi IPL 2014 saw its first century. Lendl Simmons carried his bat through MI’s 157-run chase, scored 100 off 61 balls, and hit 14 fours and two sixes.
After receiving his Man of the Match award, the man of many cricket shots but very few words, spoke to IPLT20.com about his best T20 knock.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
Was this your best T20 knock?
Yes, I’ll say so. This 100 is very special. I am just grateful for the chance to play in the IPL after not being picked up in the auction. In my first game, I scored 38 and then have built on that. This is a great feeling, scoring the first century of this IPL season and my first century in a long time.
You came here late, but that didn’t stop you from seeing and conquering!
Since Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard have played for MI, they always vouched on me to the owners that I am a good player and that they should bid for me. They kept telling me that one day I will get an opportunity to play for Mumbai Indians. They were right. The call came and here I am! I can bat and I back myself to bat the team to winning positions. I don’t take any pressure and just go out there to express myself.
With you and Mike Hussey, do you think MI have finally found an answer to their opening quandary?
Cricket is not a certain game and you can never say that we have found a stable combination in any aspect of the game. In the T20 format, you don’t have a stable batting order; you just go with your best combination on the day.
What is the best thing about batting with Mike Hussey?
He’s a very cool guy, very relaxed and doesn’t get flustered at all. He’s very down to earth and he keeps talking to you while batting, which is very good. He helped me a lot today during my first 50 runs, walking up to me every now and then and giving me confidence. He is very good to bat with and great to have around in the team.
Is this knock more satisfying, given it has kept MI’s Playoffs hopes alive?
It is satisfying, but I’ll be more satisfied with this knock if it helps us make the Playoffs. If we get there, I’ll be able to look back at this knock and say, ‘Yes, I had a big impact on us getting into the top four’.