The Indian Premier League has entered its decisive phase, with all teams striving to make the semi-finals. However, the basics of Twenty20 have not changed, as was evident in the Kolkata-Mumbai game on Friday. It showed that a good start is essential, and if you start well, half the job is done.
The batsmen tend to go hammer and tongs at the outset, but with bowlers slowly finding their feet, this could result in loss of early wickets. The value of wicket is such that 40 for no loss in six overs is a very good target for a team to set itself at the start.
Sunday's game is crucial for both Chennai and Kolkata. Both teams would look to make amends, after suffering defeats in their last match. Kolkata, fresh from a mauling at the hands of Mumbai, particularly Sanath Jayasuriya, would like to bring their campaign back on track.
Kolkata have a very strong bowling attack, one of the strongest in the competition, while as far as our team is concerned it is the batting that has been doing well. If you ask me about our plans to counter Shoaib Akhtar, my reply will be that we will play every ball on its merit, be it Shoaib or any other bowler.
Sourav Ganguly has batted first whenever the coin landed in his favour, and since it's a 4 pm start, both teams would prefer to do that. I haven't yet seen the surface, and would take a call on what to do on Sunday. The heat and humidity notwithstanding in Kolkata, Eden Garden should be full on Sunday, and I hope we will be able to play good cricket.
Both Chennai and Kolkata suffered at the hands of a belligerent Jayasuriya. While Kolkata set up a modest total we had a pretty decent score, but still lost with more than six overs to spare. I'm not too sure about Kolkata's bowling plans, but we did err while bowling to Jayasuriya. We were either full on his pads or providing him width. Anyway, it's always difficult to contain someone like Jayasuriya when he is at his best. Plans and counter plans often go awry.
The inability to consolidate in the final five overs in the last few games suggests that the bowlers are getting crafty with every game. They are working hard on accuracy and change in pace, and when the ball is in the slot, it's hard to score.
We had a short break, as the team arrived here on Thursday. Kolkata is a city I know well, and it was great to dig into some chicken biriyani.
It's best to relax and take one game at a time rather than worry about a semifinal berth.
Technically we have to win two out our next four games, and we will try our best to eke out a win on Sunday.