We had a plan and it succeeded - Yusuf
Kolkata Knight Riders had planned to score a boundary in every over and rotate strike during their chase against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla, and Yusuf Pathan said they had largely succeeded in pulling it off despite a poor start.
Coming into bat with KKR on 21 for 3, Yusuf scored a 39-ball 59 and put on 110 in 72 balls with Manish Pandey, who was unbeaten on 69 after hitting the winning runs with a ball to spare.
"We had a good game plan and it succeeded. We were trying to get a boundary or a six in every over regardless of who the bowler was and to keep rotating the strike," Yusuf told iplt20.com after the match. "We were trying to put the bowlers and the captain under pressure so that they commit a mistake and so do the fielders.
"The bowlers were becoming aggressive and I was enjoying that. When the bowler comes aggressively at you, I feel good because he wants to get me out and that leads to a good contest. When I came in to bat I was middling the ball well. The bowlers were under pressure. I could feel that they wanted my wicket. So, I was thinking that 'I have to stay at the wicket. As long as I am there the match is ours.' I was converting the boundary balls into boundaries and the strike was rotating as well; so that was a good start."
Yusuf, who scored 21 not out and 6 in his previous two innings, praised Pandey's batting and underscored the importance of KKR not being "confused" by Daredevils' plans. "Delhi has a good bowling line-up and Zaheer is captaining them really well," Yusuf said. "His field placement was also really good, but we had to hold ourselves back and stay calm. We discussed that we have to bat according to the way we want to and not to the field that they were placing.
"We told ourselves that we will play our shots because their field placements were really good and could confuse the batsman. But we discussed that we shouldn't get confused and back ourselves and continue playing our shots whether it's going over the top or along the ground. The wicket was good and the outfield fast, so that too was helpful."
Before Yusuf and Pandey had their match-winning partnership, KKR's bowling effort had been spearheaded by Australian fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile, who was playing his first game of the season and his first for his new IPL franchise. Coulter-Nile was Man of the Match for his spell of 3 for 22, which limited Daredevils to 168 for 7, and later spoke of how he had recovered from a lumbar bone stress injury.
"Making a comeback from injury, I had to focus on my role," Coulter-Nile said. "Getting back was tough; it was a long time out of the game. Playing T20 cricket, doing well and contributing to the win, all worth it in the end."