Truly, the moment Pathan walked out to bat, he was ready to show off his batting pyrotechnics. He walked in to bat in the very first over. KKR had lost their openers to some brilliant spin bowling from Ravichandran Ashwin who was viciously turning the ball. For Pathan though, spin or no spin - it didn’t matter. His way was to attack and deposit every delivery into the stands. “Ashwin bowled really well to get two wickets in his first over. He was getting a lot of spin off the wicket,” Yusuf begins talking about his mode of play to counter Ashwin. “When a bowler is getting that kind of spin, as a batsman you have two thought processes going on. One is to either play him out and the other is to attack him right from the beginning. My target was to always attack so that he got into the defensive. In that way I could easily play my natural game and it clicked for me tonight.”
Attack was an understatement. ‘Menacing’ could do justice to the carnage that Yusuf delivered on Ashwin in the third over that literally tilted the game in KKR’s favour. Pathan launched two sixes and two boundaries in that over and after that it was only a formality for the proceedings to come to an end in KKR’s favour.
“I wanted to hit him for a six in the very first ball. I wanted to put him under pressure early on in the over so that it would boost my confidence. And, when I was in that kind of confidence I didn’t want to take a single and give the confidence away. I wanted to churn out as many runs as possible from that particular over since I had the upper hand early on. The ball was coming nicely on to the bat and I thought, “Why should I take a single when I can hit the deliveries for sixes. Why should I wait for any other over when I can seal the deal in this one?”
A game-changing over for sure, but it did require the mayhem of one batsman from that KKR dugout to do the job for the team. It was Yusuf’s night to shine. There were no messages passed on to him before he walked out to bat. It was a case of doing it the ‘Yusuf way’. “I was just walking out of the dressing room when I saw wickets were falling. I didn’t get time to sit in the dugout. I walked off straight from the dressing room to the ground. The message is in the head and that is to continue playing my natural game. The dressing room is well aware of my shots and my abilities and they never feel the need to tell me how to play my game.”
Though it looked all too easy for him, Yusuf was of the view that such rain curtailed matches come with a challenge of their own. “When it is a rain curtailed match and you are given a situation where you have to get the target in just nine overs, it is always important to get off to a good start. It gets difficult while chasing if you don’t get a good start and you lose your top two wickets in the very first over. It was a small total but chasing such totals in that many overs under such difficult circumstances is always difficult.”
KKR now move to second spot in the points table and a berth in the playoffs looks certain. In that context, this win was a much needed one for the side. “We wanted this win. After the loss in our previous game it was important for us to get those two crucial points in this game. We are playing one game away from home and it is important for us to bank on our home advantage as much as we can. We chased well tonight and due credit to our bowlers who bowled well in the first half of the match. That made the job easier for the batsmen while chasing.”
Every year you have one Yusuf Pathan innings that defines his moment in the IPL. This year he has given a lot more than just one of those innings that have come in a winning cause. Yusuf wanted to continue this good run for as long as he could. “I am not thinking too much about my batting at the moment. I feel I am batting very well throughout the tournament and I don’t need any other thoughts creeping into my mind while batting. I am just going to continue batting this way in the rest of the matches. If I continue batting like this, I am sure we can finish a lot of games more comfortably.”