If Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had their bowlers to blame for their defeat at the hands of Gujarat Lions here on Friday, it was just the opposite for the visiting side, assistant coach Sitanshu Kotak said.
After a flying start courtesy a 15-minute Sunil Narine blitzkrieg (42; 17b 9×4 1×6), the Gujarat bowlers did well to rein in KKR in the middle overs and restrict them to under 200 which at one point seemed an inevitability.
Skipper Suresh Raina was the pick of the bowlers (1/11) in his two overs at an economy rate of 5.50. Young Kerala pacer Basil Thampi also executed his yorkers well towards the end of the first innings.
“When they were 44 in three overs, the first thing (that) we were thinking was to see through the Powerplay because we knew he (Thampi) had three overs left, Jamie (Faulkner) had, and before the first break, we thought in the middle, we needed to bowl quite a few yorkers,” Kotak told reporters after the match.
“On this wicket, we knew that he (Thampi) can literally bowl each and every delivery (a yorker), and he tried some slowers one (too). It was a must win the game for us, like in the pre-match conference I had said, we had no choice but to win this.
“The bowlers executed (the plans) really well from the under-pressure situations. Raina bowled two fantastic overs, one wicket, and 10 runs. We knew we had bowlers (who) could stop players like Manish Pandey and (Yusuf) Pathan. It wasn’t easy and I think they did a fantastic job,” he said.
Thampi, who was with the Indian team as an extra player during their Australia Test series, said he perfected the yorkers with the tennis ball.
“I got my yorkers from tennis ball cricket. I came here before the tournament, we had good practice sessions. I worked with my coaches and they gave good confidence to me, as well as my captain. I didn’t have any (real) pressure to execute, that’s the big thing.” the 23-year-old said.
“It’s a fantastic feeling because the last couple of games, we didn’t do well. In fact we did well but on the matter of day, we didn’t execute it (our plans) well. We needed one good win, we got it today, so we are very happy to be there,” Thampi added.
Gujarat was in the dumps prior to the game with just one win in five games. WIth the victory, they moved off the foot of the table having four points now from six outings. Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rising Pune Supergiant are all tied on four points