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The din at Eden Gardens reached fever pitch, as the Kolkata Knight Riders stormed their way into the Pepsi IPL 2014 Final after defeating the Kings XI Punjab by 28 runs. The legendary stadium had received a purple facelift as their heroes made it to their second IPL Final in emphatic fashion. While Robin Uthappa was one of the chief architects of the team’s prolific run this season, a lot of credit also needs to be given to the bowling line-up, which has defended totals successfully.
Take into consideration the KKR pace attack: Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav have been bowling well in tandem and were at their best on the big day against Kings XI Punjab. The duo accounted for five wickets, cleaning up the cream of the Kings XI batting line-up with ease. Umesh Yadav was adjudged Man of the Match for his three-wicket haul, and his pace-bowling partner was more than happy for his close friend.
Excerpts from his interview:
A place in the final – a perfect way to sign off from Eden Gardens?
When we left Dubai, we knew we had to raise our game in India. To win eight games in a row and to get into the IPL final is a dream come true. I have never in my life experienced anything like the crowd at Eden Gardens. To defend a total tonight at Eden Gardens was fantastic. I am glad that as a team, we could give a fitting finale to the crowd.
What did the bowling unit do to keep a strong Kings XI batting line-up quiet?
I think we have planned well against them and executed those plans well. The most important thing has been bowling the right bowlers at the right time. That is where Gautam Gambhir has been unbelievable this year. He has been rotating the bowlers well and bowling the right bowlers to the right batsmen. There is no special formula to it; the bowlers are doing well as a unit, which has helped us produce positive results.
What do you make of your bowling partner, Umesh Yadav?
I am a massive fan of Umesh. We have played together with the Delhi Daredevils and it is fantastic to play with him yet again; this time for KKR. He is a natural athlete. We are close friends and I really hope he can kick on from here and make that spot in the Indian bowling line-up his own.
How does it feel to be just one step away from grabbing the trophy?
I am very excited about that. Hopefully, I can make it to the starting XI in the Final at Bengaluru. We need to enjoy tonight and then refocus tomorrow morning. It is not every day that you play in an IPL Final. We have worked hard for it, but the job is still not done. We need to focus on the next 40 overs and play every ball to our potential.
Asked to bat first, the Kolkata Knight Riders were cruising along at a steady pace, when Kings XI Punjab’s leg-spinner Karanveer Singh dealt a double-blow to remove Shakib Al Hasan and the big-hitting Yusuf Pathan off consecutive deliveries.
Although the leg-spinner couldn’t complete a hat-trick, he bowled his heart out while looking to restrict the hosts. Brought into the playing XI towards the business end of the tournament, Karanveer has claimed seven wickets from three games – three of which came in Qualifier 1. While speaking to IPLT20.com after the match, he talked about how he planned for the big wickets of Yusuf and Shakib and the fearlessness required while bowling in the shortest format of the game.
Excerpts from his interview:
After getting an opportunity towards the business end of the tournament, how do you prepare for key contests?
I had started preparing long before the tournament started. I was in touch with Sanjay Bangar sir after the Kings XI Punjab picked me at the Auction and worked on his advice. And although I didn’t play in the initial matches, I was working in the nets. And after getting the chance, I am giving my 100 percent.
How had you planned for Yusuf Pathan’s wicket?
His was a very important wicket and so was Shakib’s (Al Hasan). I was thinking about both of them since yesterday night. I had it at the back of my mind that I can get them out by varying my pace rather than bowling the same deliveries, and that worked for me.
You were on a hat-trick with the wickets of Yusuf and Shakib. What were you thinking while bowling the hat-trick ball to Suryakumar Yadav?
I wasn’t thinking about it too much. I was just thinking of doing what I do and not doing anything extra.
While you got three wickets, you were also hit for a few sixes and fours. How do you cope with getting hit?
They are part of the game. And in this format, you are bound to get hit. And they were looking to attack me, which was creating chances for them to get out. In such situations, I back myself and try to bowl my best deliveries.
Do you feel fearlessness is a prerequisite for spinners?
Yes, very much, especially in this format. Given the pressure and the crowd, it’s important to have that attitude. And we work on that. The coach, bowling coach and the captain emphasise on playing fearlessly.
And besides, getting hit is also part of the game. The batsmen are there to hit you. So, we focus on our strengths and work on those.
Flight and loop are keys for a leg-spinner; how do you work to use them?
Flight and loop – both the things are my strength. So, I try and use them as much as I can.
How encouraging was it to see leg-spinners getting wickets in the tournament?
I feel that leg-spinners always have a better chance of getting wickets. And it was encouraging to see leg-spinners get wickets and it motivated me.