Paul, Owais lend us middle muscle | india | Hindustan Times
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Paul, Owais lend us middle muscle

india Updated: Apr 19, 2009 01:22 IST

When I retired from international cricket, I had thought that I would never get an opportunity to play in South Africa ever again. However, life has this way of surprising you, and I am back in South Africa, a country where I have really enjoyed playing. That is the only silver lining as far as the tournament not being in India is concerned — will miss the amazing support we got in Delhi, and hopefully will be able to enjoy it next year.

The shift to South Africa is good for the pace bowlers because the conditions here suit us, and it’s good for the Australians because the pace and bounce in the wickets is similar to what we are used to.

I score on both counts, so needless to say I am raring to go. The 39-year-old body is feeling good, and I have really worked hard at keeping myself match-fit. I am keenly aware of the fact that I will be playing against international cricketers who are playing through the year, and it has been my aim to keep up with them as far as fitness is concerned.

I think I am bowling as well as I did last year, but the real test will be tomorrow.

The best news for me is that I am one of the luckiest bowlers in the IPL because I don’t have to bowl against Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Dave Warner. The first two have been the most consistent openers in world cricket over the last 12 months, and Warner too has made a tremendous debut for Australia, in T20 cricket.

Looking back at last year, we had the team that could have won the tournament, but if there was an area that could have been improved upon it was the middle order. The inclusion of Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah has ensured that there is some solidity in the middle order as well, and I feel that Delhi has the most balanced side among the eight teams in the fray. Paul and Owais have been training with us for more than a week now, and it’s a pleasant surprise that the English lads are actually pretty good fun in the dressing room!

A lot has happened between the two IPL seasons, and I must thank my team and whole DD set-up for their patience and kindness when Jane passed away.

I am just so happy to be able to play with this team, and I am focused on one game at a time.

The Punjab team is a strong batting side, and we will have to bowl well against them. It will also be interesting to see how Brett (Lee) after the break from international cricket.

Gameplan