Guilty of not play­ing Sanju in KKR

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - WORLD - GAU­TAM GAMBHIR Harit N Joshi

In our last game on Fri­day, be­fore I could no­tice changes in Delhi Dare­dev­ils’ lineup, the first change that hit me was Za­heer Khan’s of­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship sta­tus. One of the most ge­nial crick­eters you could ever meet was now ‘booked’ or, as bach­e­lors hap­pily like to term it, ‘en­gaged’.

I have played a lot of cricket with Zak and trav­elled with him too. He was eas­ily the most de­sir­able bach­e­lors of the In­dian cricket team that I played in. Throw in a Yu­vraj Singh and women were spoilt for choice.

Za­heer had those pierc­ing eyes, an ef­fer­ves­cent smile and pres­ence. Yuvi stood out for at­ti­tude, gift of the gab and a lot of chivalry.

In the heat and the pres­sure of an IPL game, I was tempted to ask

Pune Su­per­giant fi­nally seem to be ris­ing while Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore ex­pe­ri­enced their sev­enth loss of IPL10, which vir­tu­ally threw last year’s fi­nal­ists out of the play­offs race.

Lockie Fer­gu­son’s 4-1-7-2 and Im­ran Tahir’s 3/18 helped Pune re­strict Royal Chal­lengers to 96 for nine in 20 overs in reply to 157/3 to win the match by 61 runs at the MCA Sta­dium on Sat­ur­day.

Ex­cept for Vi­rat Kohli’s 55-run knock, the rest of the Royal Chal­lengers bats­men lacked the ap­petite to fight as they col­lec­tively man­aged only 41 runs.

That only six bound­aries were hit by the RCB bats­men speaks vol­umes of Pune’s qual­ity bowl­ing. It was also a pointer to RCB’S Zak if he was feel­ing any side-ef­fects of en­gage­ment but de­cided against it. I was only too happy to win the toss.

Most teams are happy to chase un­der lights as ball comes on bet­ter dur­ing that time of the day at Eden Gar­dens.

Till about a few years back, Sanju Sam­son was with KKR. I was guilty of not giv­ing him an op­por­tu­nity. Each time he scores against KKR, I feel he is try­ing to prove a point.

CHANGED AP­PROACH

My coach San­jay Bharadwaj tells me that Sanju spent some time with him at Delhi’s LB Shas­tri Club. And by San­jay sir’s as­sess­ment, Sanju has re­booted his game. Sanju was smooth in his bat­ting.

We didn’t bowl well ei­ther. Later on, we tight­ened things up and bowled bet­ter lines. Top four Delhi bats­men fall­ing to lbws is a tes­ti­mony to that.

Our best ef­forts came in the lat­ter half of DD’S in­nings where we switched our bowl­ing plans. bat­ting display that the only six of the in­nings was hit in the 17th over – a first in IPL’S his­tory.

RCB’S POOR POW­ER­PLAY

Royal Chal­lengers again had a poor Pow­er­play per­for­mance, man­ag­ing only 39 runs in their six overs and also lost two wick­ets. Travis Head (2) was bowled by Jay­dev Unad­kat in the sec­ond over while AB de Vil­liers was dis­missed in sin­gle dig­its for the third con­sec­u­tive time when he hit one straight to Manoj Ti­wary at cover for three.

In the next four overs, RCB could add only 10 runs and lost Kedar Jad­hav, who was in­volved in a mix-up with Kohli, and Sachin Baby in the next over, cour­tesy a su­perb div­ing catch by skip­per Steve Smith.

Frus­tra­tion was writ large on Kohli’s face as no one was will­ing to shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity with him in the chase.

Kohli smashed Im­ran Tahir for a six over mid­wicket to bring up his half-cen­tury and also some From wicket-tak­ing deliveries, we were look­ing to bowl dots and then go for the kill. Rishabh Pant and Chris Mor­ris’ dis­missals were more out of this strat­egy than ag­gres­sion.

Delhi were 130-odd for 2 in 15 overs and look­ing set for around 180 or more. I am proud the way our bowlers pulled it back.

For a change, Su­nil Narine had an off day in bat­ting. I hope that keeps him on the toes as we take on Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad on Sun­day.

I am hit­ting them well and so is Robin Uthappa. The best part is that the team is in a won­der­ful frame of mind.

Our post-match cel­e­bra­tions cheer for fans here. His re­sis­tance was fi­nally bro­ken as he holed out at deep cover.

Ear­lier, Pune’s Rahul Tri­pathi, who was dropped by Kohli at mid-on on 11, again failed to cap­i­talise on the start. He threw away his wicket for the sixth suc­ces­sive time in the 30s as he nicked it to wick­et­keeper Jad­hav on 37.

Royal Chal­lengers bowlers kept Smith quiet for the first 22 balls, where he man­aged only 17 runs with one bound­ary. But it is dif­fi­cult to keep the Aus­tralian quiet for too long as he took on Sa­muel Badree in his third over, scor­ing 16 runs off it which in­cluded a slog sweep for six, fol­lowed by a back-foot punch and a cut that raced to the bound­ary.

Smith’s next tar­get was Stu­art Binny, as he wel­comed him with con­sec­u­tive bound­aries – the first one flicked off his pads and the other between the point and back­ward point field­ers by open­ing the face of his bat. Two balls later, Smith took a risk, but it landed in the hands of Milne. are get­ting wilder. On Fri­day, Yusuf Pathan was at his best. I some­times won­der who is more fun -- Yusuf or his son Ayaan!

In KKR, we have this prac­tice where we pick our own ‘gamechanger’.

This is a syn­onym to ‘man-ofthe-match’ award. This is my way to keep the ca­ma­raderie thread go­ing.

While the big­gest con­tri­bu­tion al­ready gets man of the match, game-changer award recog­nises small but sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mances. The award car­ries a cash prize and lots of cake on the face. As long as we’re win­ning don’t mind the cake.

Sun­ris­ers are a tough side to beat. I think with Shikhar Dhawan com­ing good and Kane Wil­liamson fit­ting in the com­bi­na­tion, they look a for­mi­da­ble unit. Be­sides, Bhu­vnesh­war Ku­mar and Rashid Khan present their own set of chal­lenges in bowl­ing. I think this is a game where we need more than a few ‘game-chang­ers’.

MY COACH SAN­JAY BHARADWAJ TELLS ME SANJU SPENT SOME TIME WITH HIM, AND BY HIS AS­SESS­MENT, SANJU HAS RE­BOOTED HIS GAME.

BCCI

Im­ran Tahir’s three wick­ets played a vi­tal part in re­strict­ing Royal Chal­lengers.

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