Calcutta: Following the IPL auction last February, one aspect which really stood out in the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) side was their bowling attack, comprising Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Shakib-al Hasan and Piyush Chawla.
KKR, though, needed the bowlers to live up to their reputation. The bowlers didn’t disappoint as they restricted the opposition to decent totals. Leading the charge was off-spinner Narine, who took 20 wickets.
While these bowlers were all established stars, a youngster who impressed was Umesh Yadav. He bowled with a lot of pace and extracted bounce off the pitch to trouble the batsmen.
Another impressive factor was he complemented Morkel well. If Morkel bowled in the right areas, Yadav was accurate with his line and length. Morkel was all praise for the 26-year-old pacer.
“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…
“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,” Morkel told IPL’s official website.
Morkel, himself, put up a splendid show. In 11 matches, he picked up 12 wickets. He was also brilliant in the Qualifier 1 against Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday as he conceded 23 runs off his four overs and took two wickets.
Speaking about his performance, he said: “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 our captain Gautam Gambhir has been unbelievable. 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.”
Wednesday’s victory took KKR’s winning streak to eight. Asked about the form of the team, the South Africa pacer said: “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 at Eden Gardens was fantastic. I am glad that as a team, we could give a fitting finale to the crowd.”
Asked what the team’s and his plan for the final, Morkel said: “I am very excited about playing in the final. Hopefully, I can make it to the starting XI in the final at Bengaluru.
“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.”
Morkel, along with Jacques Kallis, Wasim Akram and some other members of the KKR support staff, played a round of golf at the RCGC, on Thursday morning.
Morkel has always maintained that body language is the key for bowlers. “Body language is the key. Intimidating is one thing, but I think the key is to have a good body language. I think it is always going to be a competition between the bat and ball. It is important for us as bowlers to keep calm and focus on our bowling ball-by-ball.”
On whether he focuses on taking wickets or restricting the flow of runs in this format, Morkel said: “I think it is a bit of both. I think it is important for me to have an aggressive mindset, and to think wickets, but not bowl for wickets. I don’t really bowl for wickets, but I think wickets.
“I like to develop and be seen as a bowler who can bowl in all sorts of conditions and not only on bouncy tracks.”
Morkel said he has been taking some important tips from legendary Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram, who is the team mentor of Knight Riders.
“The thing that I am working on with Wasim is to keep hitting the crease and to get in good position at the crease. If I am in a strong position at the crease, then the ball will do the work for me,” he explained.
Should the Knight Riders win their second IPL title, on Sunday, in Bangalore, Morkel’s performance will be crucial.