Besides my beloved Kolkata Knight Riders, the other side I follow and feel for are the Delhi Daredevils. The reasons are obvious. Delhi is my home and my IPL initiation happened here.
I was there when the DD colours were red and black. I was there when Shoaib Malik, Glenn McGrath were part of the Daredevils’ dressing room. I was there when Akshay Kumar unleashed his stunts at Feroz Shah Kotla to get the crowd going. I was there when black in the jersey gave way to the cool-cool blue. It was from 2008 to 2010 and I was in my bachelor years – carefree and courageous. My stance was side on but I still took challenges head on. I continue to do so, albeit with an open stance and in purple colours.
The love, success and warmth I got from Kolkata meant I didn’t miss Delhi. As captain of KKR, I was always made to feel welcome despite the fact that I was a Delhi boy, and more importantly, was replacing the favourite son of Bengal, Sourav Ganguly. Therefore, my first love resides in purple and a distant second in the red and blue of DD.
Feroz Shah Kotla is my backyard but I tell myself I am a guest here and should not take anything for granted. Today, when we take on Delhi, I’d do the same. I am an opponent for Delhi and would give my all to beat them.
Zaheer Khan is leading the side well. He is a thinking fast bowler and is setting some intelligent fields. It is obvious to see the Zak and Rahul bhai effect on DD. The planning is meticulous and execution is precise. Therefore, it is not surprising to see them in the top four on the points table. We in KKR are mindful of that and have plans for each of our opposite number.
One of the positives of playing Delhi this year is the quality of pitches that have been on offer at Kotla. Gone are the days when we’d get a lazy, sticky, low-bouncing track for a T20 game. It would rarely take teams beyond 150-160. If the last game against Gujarat Lions is a template, then the curator deserves a pat on the back. I wish the pitch plays true throughout.
Losing a contest is never a pleasant feeling and that too when you lose to the same opposition twice. This is what is hurting me most about Thursday night’s loss to Mumbai Indians. Besides, the contest followed a pattern of our previous game against the same opposition at Eden Gardens.
To me, it showed that we hadn’t learnt from our mistakes. We needed more runs in the last five overs to fire our innings. Our batsmen tried but it was one of those days when the opposition had our number. It was a wake-up call for us. Rohit Sharma continues to mesmerise. I don’t know whether he knows how good he is.
The good thing is that there is hardly any time to think about the loss. Most of Friday was consumed by travel, pool session, team meetings and organising passes for almost half of Delhi, but demand exceeded supply. The plan is to buy some from the Daredevils’ office on Saturday morning. I am sure they’ll help their former recruit.
(The writer is captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders)