Kolkata Knight Riders made a surprising move in promoting Piyush Chawla to No 4 against Delhi Daredevils, the highest position he has batted in 62 IPL innings, ahead of more established batsmen like Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell and Suryakumar Yadav. Chawla said the decision was tactical, so Knight Riders could have a left-hand batsman to upset the rhythm of Daredevils' legspinners.
Though Chawla did not score at a high strike rate, he made 22, off 19 balls. "We wanted to have a left-handed batsman in when two legspinners were bowling. The plan for me was to go and take some chances against them," Chawla told iplt20.com. "But I hardly played them because they were taken off after the first two or three balls and didn't bowl to me again."
The innings gained impetus as Yusuf Pathan attacked the spinners, launching them for three sixes in his 24-ball 42 - his highest score of the season - helping Knight Riders finish with 171. They had been 82 for 3 in the 12th over when he began his innings. Knight Riders eventually won by 13 runs to move to third place with 13 points.
"We lost vital wickets at the top of the order and my role was to play till the end. The final overs give me the license to play as freely as possible," Yusuf said. "Once I get my eye in, it is not very difficult for me to get big runs towards the end of the innings. I have immense confidence in myself and I know if I take the attack to the bowlers, I can easily get 15-16 runs in an over."
Yusuf has hit 121 sixes in 116 matches, fourth highest in the IPL. He said being successful in big hitting was similar to starting a business.
"You invest a lot of time and effort towards a successful business, and big hitting is just like that. There is a lot of time invested behind those big hits that look good on television. To be successful as a power hitter you need the body balance and the bat flow to be in sync. The body swivel needs to be behind the ball so that I can generate enough power in my shots.
"I don't practice just big hitting. Even little things like keeping the eyes on the ball, getting your posture right and getting your feet in the right direction all add up to being successful in your batting. You can't go all out and trust your power to get you through each time. As a power hitter, you also have to learn to be sensible and play according to the situation." Defending 171 in a crucial encounter Knight Riders were dependent on their overseas spin contingent to perform, but it was Chawla who came up with a Man-of-the-match performance, with figures of 4 for 32.
"Picking wickets was the only thing that I had in my mind when I came back for the second spell," Chawla said. "Their required rate was close to 11 and I knew they were going to go after me. I just had to bowl in good areas to get wickets.
"Flighting the ball depends on the situation. Sometimes you need to flight and sometimes you don't need to but I always go for wickets as a legspinner. I never think of containing the batsman. When you try to pick up wickets you go for runs as well but you can only win matches by taking wickets."