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You will fall short of adjectives to describe this game of cricket. Just when Eden Gardens was attaining normalcy after the Yusuf Pathan show on Saturday night, Wankhede staged one of the most dramatic finishes ever witnessed, in front of a sea of blue on Sunday. A herculean task at hand with a priceless Playoffs spot on offer – it required something special from a man in the Mumbai Indians side to turn things in their favour.
It was that man, Corey Anderson, who had been silent throughout the tournament, who played a no-holds-barred innings to help his team cross the finish line. His innings would be etched in his cricketing career and the minds of thousands of Mumbai Indians fans who had thronged the gates of Wankhede Stadium to cheer their team on.
In this post-match chat with IPLT20.com, Anderson takes us through the run-chase and his joy, which knew no bounds, as Aditya Tare hit the winning six.
Excerpts from his interview:
What are you going through at the moment? Please go ahead and express your emotions.
What do I say! It is an unbelievable feeling, you know. I can only look back to the UAE, where we got written off, and then, look at our remarkable turnaround when we landed in India. When we came to Mumbai, we began to roll and there was a sense that we would qualify for the Playoffs. But to do it in such dramatic fashion in front of our home crowd is an awesome feeling.
You had to hunt down a total of 190 in 87 balls. How much positivity was there in the dressing room to chase that total?
It was a massive total to chase and the feeling in the change room was optimistic. We knew it would be tough, but we also knew that if we backed ourselves and gave our 100 percent, we would come out on top. Personally, you always want to capitalise on making a big score. Some days it comes off and sometimes it doesn’t. But tonight was one of those days when I could go ahead and get a big one for the team. There were times I could not hit the middle of the bat, but managed to find the gaps. It makes the innings a lot more special when your team wins at the end of it.
Talk us through your innings when you were the only constant at the crease as wickets kept tumbling at the other end.
I had faith in the batsmen to follow. Ambati Rayudu came out to bat and blasted every delivery he faced. It was a beautiful cameo from him, and credit to all the other batsmen who contributed to the win. It wasn’t an easy job getting boundaries off every delivery, but the guys stuck to the plan and executed it beautifully.
How nervous were you when the team needed 2 off 1 and Rayudu was facing the most crucial delivery of the match?
I wasn’t nervous, to be honest. I just told myself, whatever happens, happens and you will have to move on if we don’t qualify, and if we can get the team a win, nothing like it.
When Rayudu was run out, there was a slight confusion over the target. What was the calculation from the dressing room that was sent out to you and Aditya Tare?
The scores were tied at that time, and it came down to needing a boundary of the next ball to qualify. The calculation was simple – If Tare gets a boundary or a six, we would have sealed a Playoffs spot. It just boiled down to that delivery and hats off to Tare to come at that moment and do what he did in a pressure situation. We were fortunate enough to get the ball through for a six on that delivery in a crunch situation, and it feels splendid to end up on the winning side after that.
Did you break into a small prayer from the other end when Tare faced that James Faulkner delivery?
Yes! I was just hoping for a boundary, some kind of force that will help us cross the line. As soon as I heard the noise off the bat and saw the ball going over the boundary for a six into the crowds, it felt special. What a time to get a match-winning knock. The crowd sure seems to have found a new hero.
(Smiles) It looks that way as of now and hopefully it stays like that. I haven’t fully fulfilled what I probably should have done all this while and I only hope tonight is a start for bigger and better things to come. It is an amazing feeling to see the crowd come and support us even when we were a bit down in the tournament. Hopefully, we will give them a lot more to cheer.
This is it then, it is Chennai Super Kings against the Mumbai Indians in Mumbai.
It is perfectly set for us. We play in front of our home crowd next, and if we take this winning momentum to the next few games, we have a good chance of winning the tournament.
Parvinder Awana is not your regular Indian pace bowler. For starters, touching the 140 kph mark on the speedometer is not a rarity for him; it’s a norm. Secondly, unlike most of his peers, who earn their bread by swinging the ball, Awana’s strength lies in the seaming ball. And last but not the least, for Awana, bowling at 140-plus is not synonymous to bowling short. He realises the importance of bowling quick and full without getting carried away with the purchase off the wicket and his own ability to bowl fast.
This 27-year-old pacer, who was a lynchpin of the KXIP attack in the last IPL, has struggled to get game-time this season, with only four matches under his belt so far. His last outing was against DD in Mohali, where he walked off the field with awesome figures of 3-1-15-2.
In a rather honest chat with IPLT20.com, Awana revealed his struggles in the initial part of the tournament this year and how he overcame them. He also hoped he can do enough in the remaining matches to get a look-in by the national selectors.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
You set the tone for the game with your control over your length with the new ball; you had Kevin Pietersen pretty comfortably.
I bowl my best when I pitch the ball on good length, since I can get the ball to seam around. Against KP, my plan was to hit the pitch as hard as I can and maintain that length. Has this been a mixed season for you – the team has done so well but you haven’t played many games?
Yes, I played two games in the UAE where the team won but I went for plenty of runs – which most of our bowlers did. Then, I didn’t get a chance for many matches because the new guys were performing so consistently and it made sense to stick with the same team. Then, I got one more game against KKR in Cuttack where I picked one wicket. I was awaiting another chance where I could prove my mettle, and I got it today, at the right time, I think.
You are different from most Indian bowlers as you depend more on pace than swing and variations. Does it benefit you having two Aussies – Joe Dawes and Mitchell Johnson – around?
Absolutely! I have been talking a lot to them. To be honest, my pace had gone down during the initial part of the tournament and I wasn’t putting as much effort as I needed to. That’s when Joe Dawes sat me down and reminded me what I am capable of. I think I swayed away a bit from my basics and got into the relaxed mode. By making me sit out for a few matches, he gave me the kick I needed and pushed me to get right what I am known for. I told the captain (George Bailey) that in the time I sat out, I have worked on my pace and I think I’m there again. And it’s good to have performed the way I did today.
Have you picked anything in particular from Johnson?
I speak a lot to him about pace. I asked him what he does to keep his pace up on a consistent basis. He asked me to just keep working on my fitness. He said, ‘If you are capable of bowling between 140 and 145, you will not get to 150 no matter how hard you work on your bowling or fitness. But if you ignore your physical fitness, your pace will slip.
Dawes told me he really hopes you come back into the Indian team soon. Is that a target you are eyeing with the England tour coming up?
I am very much eyeing the England tour. In fact, only last night, I was jokingly telling Joe Dawes that we have three matches left in this IPL and let me play all of them. I’ll take five wickets in each game and book a seat on that plane for England. But seriously, it was my target coming into this IPL to showcase my skills and fitness and try to make an India comeback.
As someone who has seen him from close quarters, what do you think is the secret of Sandeep Sharma’s success this year?
I know him really well – we play together at the domestic level and I have been with him at KXIP for two years now. He’s a very good boy. He’s very hard working and stays very serious on the field. He has proved his worth and is still improving. This season, the swing bowlers have done really well – guys like Sandeep and Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). They have really set the base for their teams with early wickets, which has benefitted us a lot.
Is he working on anything particular?
He has been working really hard on his death bowling in the nets. Besides that, he does a lot of work in the gym with our trainer on getting stronger and getting his pace up a bit. If he continues to do that, he will become a good fast bowler by the time he’s 24-25.