With Brett Lee and Shakib Al Hasan now in the Kolkata ranks and Lakshmipathy Balaji in some superb form, skipper Gautam Gambhir is confident his team will continue to impress when they take on Kochi in Wednesday’s Indian Premier League clash at Eden Gardens.
The Knight Riders were the perennial strugglers across the first three editions of the Twenty20 tournament in 2008, 2009 and 2010, but have since put former coach John Buchanan’s awkward methods and some odd captaincy choices behind them to emerge as a major threat this year.
With Gambhir at the helm and a fresh bunch of recruits at his disposal, the captain is looking forward to converting three wins from four matches to more of the triumphant same against Kochi and across the duration of the tourney.
“We won’t be overconfident. We have to do our job right and once you’ve got the momentum, it is important to continue and we are going to do our best to do that,” he insisted.
Australian pace ace Lee and Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib missed the first two matches of the tournament due to international commitments in Dhaka, but have since grabbed their respective roles with the Knight Riders with both hands.
Lee has been entirely economical with the new ball, while Al Hasan’s four wickets in two matches has paved the way for Kolkata to rise to the helm of the 10-team standings. Seamer Balaji, meanwhile, has typified the local talent on offer across the squad. Sunday saw his figures of three for 15 in three superb overs start the rot that eventually had the Rajasthan Royals all out for a paltry 81.
“Once we got Brett and Shakib in our team, and Balaji, it is a fantastic attack,” added Gambhir.
The 29-year-old Balaji has admitted that he attempts to emulate Sri Lankan and Mumbai fast bowler Lasith Malinga in some respects and will try do so again against the Kochi Tuskers batsmen, who have been found wanting when the ball is pitched up.
Malinga is the 2011 tournament’s top wicket-taker on the back of nine scalps, with the bulk of his victims undone by variations in length and speed.
“It is all about courage and discipline and a bit of basics. What Malinga does is nip the length a bit around, that is the thing to do. I am trying to do the same in the middle overs,” said Balaji.
Lee is adamant that his adopted team won’t be resting on their laurels in the wake of back-to-back victories over former champions Rajasthan, with the “need to focus” prevalent ahead of their clash against the Tuskers.
“We still have to play well. The nature if this kind of format is such that it all really comes down to which team performs best on the day. So, we will need to focus, make sure we have our plans in place and carry them out. If we can do that I have no doubt we can be successful,” concluded the Australian veteran. Cricket365