The first match of the Champions League, and the butterflies are back. You can make out from the body language of the players what they are thinking. I have often spotted Brendon McCullum swaying on the breakfast table as if he is letting a Morne Morkel bouncer go by.
Natasha, my wife, thinks that Brendon is evading flies or mosquitoes but I know he is visualising the Delhi Daredevils fast bowler coming hard at him.
Lakshmipathy Balaji is not too far off. His grip on the green apples is not that of a seam-up delivery but a back-of-the-hand slower one. He too is slipping into that zone. I am not sure, given how the pitch at Centurion plays, if Balaji will be bowling slower deliveries against the Daredevils.
To know what Bala bowled, watch this space.
One man who has seen all the variations is South African great Jacques Kallis. I spoke to him about batting in these conditions and, trust me, the man is an encyclopedia.
From stance to follow through, Kallis has reasoning and rationale for everything. I wish our young batsmen can pick up something from him.
The only other people who speak passionately and clearly about the art of batting are Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.
An impact player
On the batting front, I believe Kallis, me, Brendon, Manoj Tiwary and Shakib al-Hasan will have to carry our bats while Yusuf Pathan will be asked to bat in his usual mode.
He is our impact player who can destroy even the best of attacks. All he needs is confidence - something that we are trying our best to instill in him.
He is a rhythm player and has hit the right notes and looks to be in the groove.
Our clash against the Daredevils is a contest between our batting lineup and their bowling attack. Irfan Pathan, Morne and Umesh Yadav are a tough but enjoyable challenge.
I haven't seen the pitch and generally don't worry about it. But what I have heard is that it presents equal opportunities to all. Let's see if that is true.
For some reason, the press conference on Friday was not as challenging. In India, press conference rooms resemble a war zone where cameras stare at you like ammunition.
Then, the still cameramen click their 'machines' perhaps at 100 frames per second, trying to arrest the moment.
Here, it was so quiet that it seemed like I was at a ghazal concert. The contest, however, is going to be high voltage and KKR are all set to up the ante.
The writer is KKR captain.
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