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It was the third time in seven seasons that Yusuf Pathan was part of the team that lifted the Indian Premier League trophy. The Kolkata Knight Riders big-hitting batsman struck four sixes during his 22-ball 36-run cameo in the 71-run partnership for the third wicket with Manish Pandey.
During his team’s successful chase of a challenging 200-run target in the Pepsi IPL 2014 Final against Kings XI Punjab, Yusuf took the attack to the bowlers, while Pandey smashed a brilliant 94 off 50 balls. While talking to IPLT20.com after the nail-biting finish, the soft-spoken Knight Rider talked about his team’s journey to the title, and the run-chase in the Final.
Excerpts from his interview:
Talk us through your partnership with Manish Pandey where he was also looking to give you the strike?
I was striking the ball well and the partnership was also going well. I think if the shot had come off, we would have probably won the game with two overs to spare. Since I was striking the ball, he was trying to give me the strike. We were picking which ball to hit and which not to, because the wicket was good and the outfield was also quick. We were looking for one big over. We knew if we get one big over, then the game would have tilted in our favour.
Given the situation, would you say it was important to take risks as well?
Yes, definitely. It was as important to take the risks as well as playing watchfully, and we handled both aspects well. We played aggressive cricket where needed and were careful when required. At the end of the day, it was a good effort.
What were you telling yourself while batting?
When I was at the wicket, I knew that even if I play six dot-balls, I can hit 25 runs in another over. Besides, Manish was batting well at the other end. So, we were supporting each other and we said that we would try and hit the ball in the right areas.
What was it like in the dugout when Suryakumar Yadav also got out and KKR were seven wickets down?
We had full faith in Piyush Chawla that he would win us the game. He is a good cricketer and scores well in domestic cricket as well.
You are part of an IPL winning team once again. How does it feel?
Obviously, it feels very good. I am feeling great and now I have been part of a trophy-winning team thrice, and each time my parents have been watching from the stands. I feel proud that I have been part three title wins and that I am part of a champion team. Champions are always part of champion teams.
How would you sum up KKR’s campaign?
It was unbelievable! We have played very good cricket. At the top of the line-up, Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir have given good starts to win the tournament. No matter what the target is, if you don’t get a good start in the first six overs, then it is difficult to win a match. And they have done that for us. And whoever got the opportunity to stay at the crease played well and the bowlers performed well too. As a team, we did what needed to be done to win in every area. We played to our strengths and didn’t think too much about our negatives. We have a lot of positives in our team and we worked on those and continued to play, the result of which is in front of you.
Robin Uthappa has defied the law of averages. In a format that is more fickle than English weather, he strung 10 scores of 40-plus on the bounce, in Pepsi IPL 2014. The Kolkata Knight Riders opener was the single most important reason behind the team’s unbelievable jump from the near bottom of the table in the first phase of the tournament to them surging to the IPL crown.
With his 660 runs in the tournament at an average of 44 and a strike-rate of 137.78, Uthappa overtook the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith to go home with the Orange Cap. After KKR’s thrilling three-wicket win in the final against KXIP, an elated and excited Uthappa narrated his joy in an interview with IPLT20.com.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
A perfect end to the fairytale?
Oh, absolutely! This is absolutely stunning! The whole feeling is just so surreal. For me, personally, this is the fourth cup in a year and so, wow! It doesn’t get better than this, does it? This has been such an amazing ride. We didn’t start off well, but there was always the belief that we can get our campaign back on track if we just take it one game at a time, and that is exactly what we did. Even today, we knew that on this ground we can chase down any score. We only had to keep up with the run-rate and keep ourselves in the game. Literally, everybody chipped in.
Where would you rate this in your career achievements?
I have set some goals for myself – a to-do list. But this year has been something else. The Ranji Trophy, the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Irani Trophy and now the IPL, all in one year! I never thought I’ll be able to do that. It’s amazing. This is a tick in another box.
10 consecutive 40-plus scores in the T20 format – it’s unreal!
I was very keen on making a meaningful contribution to the team’s cause and I am really happy to be able to do that, and many times, also carrying the team through from difficult situations. To keep pulling off the scores after the sixth or seventh one there was a bit of pressure. I kept reminding myself to forget about the past scores, just stay in the present, and play the ball on its merit. It all fell into place, and here we are! Going back at the top of the order must have felt like homecoming.
Well, opening the batting is my bread and butter; that’s what I do for a living. It was great that the management showed faith in me and I am glad I lived up to their expectations. I am glad I lived up to my own expectations.
Good to have some runs from the captain as well and batting with him?
Absolutely! Gauti and I have always batted well opening the batting together. We’ve done that for India and have also played a lot of domestic cricket together, for India A. The understanding and the camaraderie between us is really good. We really egg each other on while batting, which is the most important thing when two batsmen are setting up a foundation for the team. Also, it’s very good to bat with a left-hander as that combination will always make things difficult for the opposition.