My mom tells me I always had a great memory. One read of the history chapters and I could reproduce them like a Dictaphone. The pressure of leading a cricket side in a tournament like IPL is different to memorising the lineage of the Mughals.
The pressure and anxiety got to me at the toss against Hyderabad on Saturday and I forgot to recall the third change in our XI. It was perhaps the most important one in the context of not only this game but the tournament. Sunil Narine was playing his first game of the season with his remodelled action and I forgot his name. Terrible me!
Opposition captain David Warner and I had a laugh about this later. But the more pleasing moment was seeing Sunil doing what he does best – bowl. He may have seemed like a toddler, walking for the first time nervous and unsure, but deep down he is a confident man. He doesn’t say much whether he is at the wicket or playing football on Playstation. For me, his 26-run spell was one of the highlights of our win. The other memory was presented by my Mohawk man Andre Russell. His effort to eject Naman Ojha was inspirational.
I may have got the man-of-the-match award but I think our fast bowlers designed this win. Umesh Yadav is an under-rated trier of Indian cricket. He always had pace but now there is experience too on his CV. Therefore, you don’t see the old up and down stuff from him but a lot of variation. Morne Morkel can make even an orange bounce from the back of the length. He produced the same rising delivery to get Shikhar Dhawan out. Russell played the support role well and it was tough for Sunrisers to recover from 50 for four.
Our day didn’t start well. In the team meeting I got the news that John Hastings and Brad Hogg were not available for this game. As captain, it is a nightmare to lose one of your main players and here I was losing two. Hastings has a more serious injury while Hogg was knocked down by food poisoning.
As a leader you can never present your nervous side to your teammates and we went about in a professional way to secure this away game win. I was pleased with my batting effort although I said in one of the previous articles it is still a work-in-progress.
To me, Robin Uthappa is still our best batsman on form. He looked in complete authority till he lost a bit of concentration after getting a knock on his hand by a Mustafizur Rahman delivery. I won’t be surprised if there is a memorable innings waiting in the wings from the ‘Robin Factory’.
In the end, it was a memorable win, an effort which I’d like to dedicate to the victims of the recent flyover tragedy in Kolkata, my second home. May God give their families strength…
(The writer is captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders)