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Shane Watson recently told this website how having been with the Rajasthan Royals since the inception of the IPL has made him intensely attached to the franchise and the team. If anyone can testify that rare feeling in league cricket, it is Shaun Marsh – the only constant in the constantly changing Kings XI Punjab since the first IPL season.
This year has been very different for Marsh in good and tough ways as he finds himself amidst new faces, of players and coaches alike. The good bit is that his team is winning almost everything that is thrown its way and enters the Playoffs as the top-ranked side in the league. The tough part being that KXIP’s leading run-scorer has had to warm the bench as the new names have grabbed the headlines.
However, those days are behind Marsh. After playing his first game of the season, against Mumbai Indians, in Mohali, Marsh is back to his prolific ways with a Man of the Match winning 40 (off 35 balls) against Rajasthan Royals.
After KXIP’s 16-run win over RR, IPLT20.com caught up with Marsh to pick his brain on the new-look KXIP.
Here are excerpt from his interview:
Back on the field, back among runs – relieved, happy?
Oh, yes! It’s so nice to be back playing for the Kings XI. To win and cement our spot at the top of the table is even more gratifying. There’s a great feeling within the group and I’m really happy for all the boys. And this ground – I love playing here. I’ve been playing on this ground for seven IPL seasons now and to come back and play in front of these people again feels like this is my second home.
That Man of the Match trophy looks good in your hand again.
I scored a few runs but our bowlers were incredible. I think our leg-spinner, Karanveer Singh (4-0-16-2), deserved the Man of the Match award more than I did. Full credit to him. RR have a really good batting order and to keep them down on this wicket was an excellent effort.
You are the only constant in this completely revamped KXIP team. How do you feel seeing all these new faces around?
It’s good to have fresh energy around and be surrounded by positivity. It’s nice to have a captain like George Bailey who is a very positive guy and is leading the team beautifully. What has clicked nicely this time is the perfect mixture of senior and younger players we have. We’ve got some exciting young Indian players who are coming through really well and performing under pressure. The senior guys are leading the way for them and supporting them in every way. It is also good to have a coach like Sanjay Bangar; he has done a great job with all the players and so has Joe Dawes. The coaching staff and the players have gelled really well together.
You must have seen a lot of Glenn Maxwell. Do you think this is the best he has been, in terms of both form and mental state?
I think so. He’s been phenomenal and batted beautifully. Hopefully, he has a few more big innings left in him this season, which we will need in the knockout games. It is an enormous asset to have someone like him who can take the game away in a couple of overs. You match him with David Miller and George Bailey and it’s a fairly potent middle order there.
Have you been spending a lot of time with Virender Sehwag? What would you like to have from his batting?
I’ve enjoyed Viru’s company over the last six weeks. He’s an absolute gem of a person and he’s always there for a chat whenever you want one. He can talk about cricket any time, and with his kind of experience, it is very special to listen to what he has to say. You can learn a lot from just listening to him. Plus, his sixes over cover are pretty special!
A total of 179 is a challenging prospect for any chasing team, and the Kings XI Punjab batsmen did their part in setting that stiff target while batting first. But their opposition on the day was a team well known for its never-say-die style of cricket. The Rajasthan Royals have been notorious for stealing victories from the firm grasp of the opposition. But not this time. And the man who can take a lot of credit for that is Rishi Dhawan.
The medium pacer, whose second over was creamed away to the tune of 13 runs (including three fours), made a sensational comeback that changed the course and eventually the fate of the game. Dhawan produced two perfect subtle in-swingers to castle RR’s two best batsmen – Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson – off consecutive deliveries. The fight got too tough even for RR, hence giving table-toppers, KXIP, a 16-run win in Mohali.
After the match, Dhawan spoke to IPLT20.com about the secret to achieving the tough task of making a comeback as a bowler in a T20 match after initially getting hit around. Excerpts from his interview:
What an over that was!
We had put up a very good total and the pressure was on them. The main idea was to be consistent in our line and let them miss the ball. I managed to bring the ball in a bit on those two occasions, the batsmen missed it and it hit the stumps.
How difficult is it to make a comeback in a T20 game after getting hit around in the previous over, given that you have only four overs in your hand?
When you get hit for 10-12 runs in an over, it plays on your mind. Moreover, by the time you come on to bowl another over, the batsmen are so much more well set, and because the ball is older, the run-flow opens up. I think in such a scenario what is most important is your mental makeup. You don’t need to go in with a drastically different game plan – only with an uncluttered mind and confidence.
How do you achieve that?
In T20, it is sometimes best to consider every over a session. If the batsman won the first session, you try and pull things back in the next. Ajinkya and Sanju played me well in my second over and scored the boundaries. But when I went in to bowl my third over, I went with a fresh outlook. I bowled well and won that session.
Most IPL franchises have a foreign coach at their helm. As a young upcoming Indian cricketer, do you think it’s advantageous to have an Indian coach around?
It is a big advantage to have an Indian coach because you can gel with him much easier and faster. He understands the mindset of the Indian players and talks to them accordingly – the communication is much better. He spends a lot of time with me analysing my bowling, watching the videos of opponents and my own bowling and helping me come up with the right plans.
Is there anything specific you’re working on with Joe Dawes?
Yes, I am especially working with him on situational bowling – how to read situations and come up with subtle variations in plans to suit them.