Our win against Pune on Sunday was one of those weird games of cricket. I must admit we played poorly and were lucky to finish on top. A lot of our actions were substandard and it seemed we were looking at ways to lose but the Almighty thrust the win on us. To begin with, my suicidal run out was uncalled for. Halfway into the second run, I knew I had given it away. I wanted to dig a hole and bury myself.
Later, a lot of our batsmen went for fancy strokes, whereas all they needed was simple, run-a-ball cricket. We literally came out of jail. While bowling, we had Pune by the scruff of the neck but let them off in the final five overs. They were 100 for 3 in 15 overs but finished 160 for 5 in 20.
It was casual on our part. Good teams win matches but great teams dominate and that is what I have learnt as a sportsperson. The All Blacks rugby team, West Indies of the glorious years, Steve Waugh’s Aussies, Manchester United all had a common thread — they dominated the opposition by their presence. That is what KKR are striving for as well.
Grit and will to fight
We have the talent in our dressing room to get there. We have the grit and will to fight. Look at young Suryakumar Yadav and you will know what I mean. I am told he is not one of the most likeable guys in Mumbai cricket, something I find hard to understand. Maybe because he speaks his mind or loves life — has a tattoo of his mom and dad, colours his hair, drives around in his redone yellow Toyota Fortuner and a Harley Davidson.
As captain, none of this concerns me. I have noticed that Surya or ‘Sky’ as I fondly call him is honest in his gym sessions, works hard at nets and can hit an on-drive like the one against Albie Morkel on Sunday.
Most importantly, Surya has never complained when he has been pushed up or down the batting order. I know more than a few cricketers for whom the team cause can go to hell but they’d never change their batting number. I’d like Surya to polish his first-class record. At the moment, he averages 46.97 with 10 hundreds in 47 games. This Ranji season he clocked 43.12 with 690 runs. It is good but not great, and that is where ‘Sky’ needs to work. If I were him, I’d park myself outside Jacques Kallis’ hotel room to pick the great man’s brains on not only the art of batting but also understanding the game.
My friend Yusuf Pathan played really well. He seemed to be dealing in pairs these days. He was recently blessed with a second boy, hit two sixes to go with two fours in the Pune game! I have reached Mumbai and have been joined by my bundle of joy, Aazeen. She and her mom are waiting for me to finish this so that we can head down for a stroll on Marine Drive.
The writer is the KKR captain