Monday night had evidently been special for Kings XI Punjab, after they scored an incredible victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore on their home turf.
Grand celebrations that must have followed the win continued on Tuesday morning, when players from the team interacted with eight fans at JW Marriott, Sector 35, Chandigarh, as a part of an HT sponsored event. The winners had been selected from a horde of contestants who answered a simple question through SMS: Who is the captain of Kings XI Punjab team?
Australian cricketer David Hussey, R Sathish, Piyush Chawla, Pakistani-born cricketer Azhar Mahmood, Luke Pomersbach, another Australian-origin cricketer, Bipul Sharma and Paul Valthaty—despite being sleep deprived— seemed eager and easy-going with the fans, who included Gaurav Sharma from Ludhiana; Charanpreet Singh from SAS Nagar, Raman Ailawashi, Rachna Narang, Sunny Behl and Shreyans Jain from the city.
Gaurav broke the ice, asking Azhar Mahmood if he liked speaking in his mother tongue Punjabi, to which Azhar smiled and said, “Mai tan bolda han, tusi bol lehnde ho?” (I do speak, but do you?)
An atmosphere of cheerful banter and light-hearted leg pulling was quick to fill the air and the teammates seemed ready for laughs.
When Sunny, who has also represented India in under-19 cricket in 2002, asked David when Bipul would get a chance to bowl in the T20 matches, the former laughed and said, “Never,” prompting an uproarious laughter from the others.
The players, when asked about the difference between India Domestic League and cricket events held abroad, were unequivocal about the energy that T20 exuded.
“One cannot compare the Indian and overseas leagues. The kind of atmosphere and passion for cricket that we see in India is unmatched. It would boost us to win the rest of the five matches,” added Azhar.
Cricket fervour had picked up by now and Piyush was asked about his strategy when an explosive batsman like Gayle is at the crease.
“When Gayle is batting, a bowler has to believe that one good ball would get him out. Strategy keeps changing but bowling variation is the key here,” said Piyush.