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Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 31 May 2014 - 01:52am IST

Two Finals in two IPLs is amazing: Johnson

An IPL winner in 2013 with MI, Aussie pacer now wants to win it for KXIP

During IPL 2013, Mitchell Johnson sat in the Wankhede Stadium players’ balcony and spoke to IPLT20.com about his scintillating debut season. After Qualifier 2 of Pepsi IPL 2014, we sat with him at the same spot for another chat. The difference was, this time the blue was replaced by red.

The Australian fast bowler, who experienced the joy of winning the IPL in his very first season, with Mumbai Indians, has once again made the Final this year, for Kings XI Punjab. After KXIP beat CSK to book a spot in the Final against KKR, Johnson reflected back on this season and KXIP’s journey to the title clash.

Here are excerpts from his interview:

Getting to the Final in your first two IPL seasons – pretty cool that?

It’s amazing. It seems I have got my timing joining the IPL right! This is the same as last year, for a different team. Hopefully, my team can once again get over the line this time. Everyone was pretty disappointed after the first Qualifier against KKR. But throughout the tournament every time we have lost a game, we’ve bounced back really well. And we did it again today. A lot of young guys in the team have done exceptionally well. One of the old boys did the same today as well – Virender Sehwag coming and scoring an unbelievable hundred.

Was Sehwag a volcano waiting to erupt?

Yes, actually a couple of times before, we thought he was about to take off. And he finally did today. He waited till the Final to show his best and that’s very good for us. He even ran a couple of quick twos and singles today. That’s pretty good to see. Hopefully, he can recover in time for the Final and we can see him at his best again. The turning point was George’s run-out of Raina. The way he was batting, you couldn’t bowl anywhere to him at that point. They were 100 after six overs and they were flying.

As a bowler, what is the most challenging aspect of bowling to him?

More than anything, it’s the mental side; not getting frustrated. Especially in a tournament like this – for instance, we have come up against CSK thrice this year and all the time there have been scores of more than 200. As a bowler, things are not on your side. You go out there and you’re probably going to get tapped off a little bit. It can be really frustrating and it is hard to maintain your cool with the heat and the crowd against you. You have to make an extra effort to enjoy yourself, bowl your best ball and let everything else go – that’s something we have stuck by throughout the tournament.

You were MI’s hero last year in the Final against CSK. What was your input to the bowlers today?

I actually didn’t say anything before the match and just let the boys do their thing. I had spoken a little in the team meeting today and just said, ‘Let’s not get carried away with this being a big game, and treat it like any other game we have played. Let’s do our thing and let them do theirs’.

Did you have a chat Awana after that over to Raina where he went for 33?

I just kept saying to him, ‘Just keep bowling your best ball’. It’s fine. The young guys felt a bit of pressure, but like it happened in our batting innings as well, a lot of good balls were put away to the boundary; it was just that kind of a wicket. We’ve experienced those kinds of wickets throughout this tournament. One big plus for us in bowling has been the fact that we have always started aggressively – we look for wickets straightaway.

How has the experience of playing under an Indian coach been for you?

I spoke to Sanjay (Bangar) before the tournament and he was pumped up to take on this new role. He spoke to Darren Lehmann before the IPL as well. He’s been amazing – calm and very switched on all the time. He knows the game so well and he’s really good with all the tactical stuff like sending different guys out to bat at different times. He has been on the point with everything – he’s upfront and honest. He’s probably blown me away a bit as I wasn’t completely sure of what to expect when I came to KXIP. But I developed a liking for him straightaway. He is a very good person off the field as well, which is always good in a coach. Hopefully, I was able to give him some useful insight from my understanding of the game as well.

The big Final now!

Yes, all the boys are pretty chuffed right now and they should be. But we still have one more game left to win. The Bangalore ground is a small one, but the wicket can sometimes be good for fast bowlers. We’ll just give our best, and whatever the result, we’ll walk off proud as a team. 

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