Centurion: Being the IPL champions, the 52-run loss for the Kolkata Knight Riders in their opening CLT20 clash, against the Delhi DareDevils was a little embarrassing.
For the die-hard Knights’ fans, who would argue that it was just the first match and they deserve another chance, here’s a note: the ‘embarrassing’ bit was captain Gautam Gambhir’s own words, said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The 161-run target looked impossible in the very second over of the chase when the Knights were reduced to 3/3. Add to that the fact that Jacques Kallis retired hurt in the same over, and you would know that match was lost very early.
One must also point out that the DareDevils went on to score 160 for eight only because the Knights let them off the hook. While the DareDevils’ young Unmukt Chand ruled, top-scoring with 40, the Knights’ Lakshmipathy Balaji leaked 61 runs in his four overs.
Balaji, in fact, gave away 30 runs in the 17th over of the DareDevils’ innings. You seldom win matches after that and the Knights didn’t.
The following are excerpts
Gautam Gambhir: This is what the format is all about. I think (Lakshmipathy) Balaji had a tough day today… Otherwise we made a good start to the game. In 15 overs, Delhi scored 100-odd runs… We thought we could restrict them to 140 runs. We were in the game. But then these things happen... Sometimes, you have the momentum and then suddenly you realise that it slipped away. You can’t hold on to the momentum.
It was a good wicket. One of the top-four batsmen had to bat through… If one of our top-four got 70, we would have won. A lot of credit should go to the fast bowlers of Delhi DareDevils… I thought they were just brilliant. Irfan Pathan and Morne Morkel bowled superbly today. The thing is we are getting just one day break before we play the next match. Hopefully, we can regroup and get the result in our favour. We have the potential and the talent to do well, to make a turnaround. Today, it was a bit embarrassing... We struggled as a batting unit. Hopefully, things will fall into place on Monday.
I think on these sort of wickets, you need to hit the deck hard. If you can do that, you can trouble the batsmen. I think they had the bowlers who could hit the deck hard. And their bowlers were able to do that. That was the difference with them. They started off very well. Their fast bowlers bowled to a plan and never let us off the hook.
These things will happen. You can always have a bad day in office. But it is important to make a comeback. I think we have the potential to stage a strong comeback. I know everyone wants us to do well… I believe that we can live up to the expectation.
Mahela Jayawardene: I’m really pleased with the performance of the boys. We wanted to get off to a good start. We wanted to play positive cricket, play aggressively. I think everyone showed the right kind of attitude on the field today. In the process, we did make a lot of mistakes. We will go back and try to rectify those.
We didn’t quite get off to a brisk start. But then it was important to preserve our wickets. Some of our batsmen did get the starts… They got off to 20s, 30s… But they could not convert them… So, we need to improve on our batting.
Unmukt Chand batted really well. He showed a lot of maturity. Towards the end, Ross Taylor made vital contributions. We were probably 10-15 runs short… At the end of the day, the bowlers bowled superbly. They utilised the conditions and bowled at the right areas.
Irfan Pathan: It came out really nicely. When you get wickets, it always feels nice. Credit should go the batsmen. They played really well, especially Unmukt. My strength is to swing the ball. I am trying to get better every day. Although the bounce was a bit uneven, it was a really good pitch. Any bowler will want to bowl here. I think I was able to bowl in hit the right areas and I got lucky.