Indian Premier League 2009 April 26, 2009

Warne's belief gave me confidence - Kamran


Kamran Khan slept well Thursday, hours after he had turned the match against Kolkata Knight Riders on its head in favour of Rajasthan Royals. Asked to bowl the final over against Kolkata, who needed seven runs for victory in Durban, Kamran forced a tie.

Minutes later, he returned to his bowling mark with a smile on his face after his captain, and No. 1 backer, Shane Warne asked him to deliver the Super Over. Kamran managed to keep the marauding Chris Gayle from trampling him, limiting the target to a gettable 16 runs. Moments later, Yusuf Pathan charged Ajantha Mendis several times into the crowd to give Rajasthan their first victory in South Africa, which had looked improbable at one stage. But Kamran never had any doubt.

Kamran, an 18-year-old left-arm fast bowler from Azamgarh in the north-Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, impressed Warne instantly after bowling one over against the Cape Cobras in a warm-up game, played couple of days before the IPL kicked off. Since then Warne has not stopped gushing about his new team-mate, who was spotted by Rajasthan team director Darren Berry at a talent scouting camp earlier this year.

Kamran's initiation has been smooth and in a matter of weeks he has become pivotal to Rajasthan's bowling strategy, especially in the absence of last year's key performers Sohail Tanvir and Shane Watson. Kamran said what has helped him settle down easily is the team's belief in winning and Warne's faith in each and every man in the squad - something that paved the way for Rajasthan to win the inaugural IPL.

"We are a champion team and we need to perform like a champion team. That has been the message everyone has been talking about," Kamran told Cricinfo from Cape Town after his evening prayers on Saturday. Of course, the fact that his captain has enough faith in him is not lost on Kamran. "Warne always keeps encouraging and motivating me. That, obviously, gives confidence. I felt very good that there is someone who has belief in me."

That support was the driving force behind Kamran's excellent two-over spell at the end, the turning point, against Kolkata. The resolute Sourav Ganguly had brought Kolkata to the doorstep of victory, but Kamran, too, was not going to blink easily - the stage now was set for an interesting duel.

"For the last ball I set the field for a yorker. I was bowling to win the game and not a tie, but Ishant Sharma dug out that yorker well to run the single"
Kamran Khan

"Warne had already signalled to me earlier that I would bowl the final over. So I was prepared. There was no pressure even if they needed only six runs. I had no plan except that I should get Ganguly out … I just needed to get his wicket. Before the penultimate delivery of the match I thought he [Ganguly] would want to finish it off without waiting for another ball. And when I saw him move to make room I bowled the length ball and he gave an easy catch. I was happy but not extraordinarily excited or anything like that for getting Ganguly, such a big wicket," Kamran said.

Warne praised the youngster's "good ball". But there was one more delivery to go. "For the last ball I set the field for a yorker. I was bowling to win the game and not a tie, but Ishant Sharma dug out that yorker well to run the single," Kamran said with a chuckle.

Kamran's job wasn't done yet; the Super Over remained. Wasn't he drained after such a tight final over? "I was not tired and I thought I would be the one to deliver the Super Over. I was confident. And Warne told me to be ready."

Was there any special message from Warne? None. "He told me to enjoy cricket and not be serious about it. He said, 'I like your smile and keep that when you bowl'. That lightened me up and helped me to focus."

Once back to the bowling mark Kamran did not panic. "There was no particular or special plan in my mind against Gayle. I knew the first ball would be a yorker. The second would also be in a block hole. He hit some good shots but I got lucky to get him on the final ball. Fifteen runs. I knew we had good hitters and that was not impossible. And when I saw Ajantha Mendis we knew [Yusuf] Pathan would win it for us - if he could stick for those six balls it would be easy."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shane on April 27, 2009, 9:33 GMT

    Just to clear up any confusion, I am an unashamed Australian fan and after playing cricket as a kid, and watching cricket for the past 25 years I am continually in awe of Shane Warne. His skills and tactical acumen, ability to conjure results from will and beleif have not and will not ever be matched. His skill as a bowler were amazing in his early years, while the back half of his career was statiscally just as impressive but achieved through guile and less frequently turning a big leggie. His role as a mentor should be sought after every team in world cricket. Young Kamran will be a better cricketer for knowing he had the belief of one of the greatest bowlers, and the skills to execute the trust given to him.

  • rugved on April 27, 2009, 5:16 GMT

    i think that he is a good young talent for India and he promises alot. But i think he should get some domestic statistics under his belt before he plays for India.

  • John on April 27, 2009, 2:30 GMT

    Did anyone notice what the one and only piece of advice that Warne gave to Kamran? It was "Enjoy your cricket, don't be too serious about it, I like your smile and keep that when you bowl." Warne clearly knows that Kamran has considerable talent and a genuine cricket brain to go with it and recognises that what he needs most at this stage is to be guided with the lightest of hands. For a young bowler with genuine skill who has been slowly sliding through the cracks Warne is the perfect mentor and I wait with keen anticipation to see what sort of bowler Kamran will be at the end of that mentoring process.

  • Allan on April 27, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    Anyone who believes Warne's hype about Kamran really has very little understanding of cricket. All the comments about bringing him into the test side is nonsense spouted by cricket neophytes. His action and physique are nowhere what is needed for test cricket. He probably will be effective in T20 and maybe even one-day matches, but test cricket is a completely different ballgame. Just consider Lasith Malinga (similar singly action) who is a far more lethal bowler than Kamran, but even he has had only moderate success in test cricket. Then consider Ishant Sharma who has limited success in T20 and one-day cricket, but is an extremely effective test strike bowler! In the right conditions even the best batsmen in the world struggle against him. And he can bowl long spells without losing pace, accuracy or getting tired as evidenced in Oz and NZ. That is because of his naturally smooth run-up, action and height that produces sharp bounce and movement off the seam and pitch

  • faisal on April 26, 2009, 20:10 GMT

    i think he is too young to play for india. he should play first class cricket for an year or so and then can be given chance. in the mean time he can be picked in indian national team in matches against weaker oppositions, such as Bangladesh.

  • tushar on April 26, 2009, 18:23 GMT

    watch him for a couple more years and then write a comment like this, well a nice story of a young man but a little too early. most of the bowlers in India tend to promise a lot but fail to do that after words look the cases of balaji,nehra .well my best wishes and complement for kamran for this ipl.

  • kaiser on April 26, 2009, 17:22 GMT

    Kamran is super find for India. I hope he would make it to the Indian national team soon and all the best. Like wise pakistan had such a fine bowler known as Muhammad Aamie but but Pakistan did not include him in the national squad which is a shame that they are player with old fox Shoaib akhtar who is proven failure. I hope Indians would not make such a blunder with Kamran Khan. I foresee him opening with Zaheer Khan soon in the tests as well. Cheers.

  • tendua on April 26, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    This is really a nice story.....Kamran Khan tried several times for Ranji selection on its own... He was sleeping on the railway platform in Kanpur just to give a Greenpark is UP's ranji team center... and all we know how these state selection in India works... and even without playing any major games with SG ball... he is playing at highest level... that is really living a dream Azamgarh really needed a role model for youngsters as many criminals from Eastern UP to Mumbai belong to this district... now they got one...

  • Kalifa on April 26, 2009, 16:35 GMT

    Kamran Can make the diffrences... Welcome Kamran....

  • Yenjie on April 26, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    Sajin, good thoughts but here's how we do things - Kamran will be admitted to the MRF pace academy where his natural action will be tinkered with, and he will have his pace "recalibrated" to enhance his accuracy, thus taking off 10-15 KM off the top end. When he can bowl steady short of length gentle outswingers at around 120-124 KPH, we will take him into the Indian team where he will be carted around by the lucky opposition and his career will become limited to limited overs cricket.

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