Jacques Kallis, who scored an unbeaten half-century against Hobart Hurricanes in the Champions League T20 semi-final, has said that his international retirement has given him an opportunity to work harder on Twenty20s. Kallis' unbeaten 54 off 40 balls steered Knight Riders' chase against Hurricanes after the side was 44 for 2 in the eighth over, while chasing 141.
"I am playing less cricket now. So I am more enthusiastic and more energised for the amount of cricket I do play now," he told clt20.com. "The biggest thing is it has given me more opportunity to work on my T20 cricket. I have put a lot of time into it and it is nice to see the hard work paying off. I have worked on giving myself bigger scoring options and allowing myself to become a better T20 player."
The former South African allrounder had retired from Tests in December last year and quit all formats of international cricket in July, following a poor ODI series against Sri Lanka. Since then, Kallis has played three T20s for Knight Riders in the Champions League and had scores of 6 and 6 before his fifty set up the 14th successive T20 win for the side. It also took Knight Riders into their first Champions League final.
His innings came after the Knight Riders' spin-heavy attack had restricted Hurricanes to 140 for 6. The Australian side could not break the chokehold of 16 overs of spin and were lifted by a late charge from Shoaib Malik, who took 21 runs off chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the penultimate over of the innings. Malik finished with an unbeaten 66 off 46 balls, with four fours and as many sixes, and looked at ease playing the spinners.
"We practised a lot against spinners before the game. Credit to the KKR spinners for bowling the way they did today. This is the first time I played against Kuldeep Yadav and I have to say he is a really good bowler," Malik told clt20.com. "He does need to work hard on his bowling if he has to stay at the top. He is just 19 years old and the way he is bowling is exceptional. If he keeps working hard, one day he will be one of the main bowlers for India."
Malik said that the regular strikes and the lack of partnerships did not allow Hurricanes to accelerate and he had to change his game plan and ensure he stayed until the end to push the team towards a challenging score.
"I did not want to play the way I did in the first phase of my innings," Malik said. "Whenever I thought about accelerating we always had a wicket falling at the other end. When you are losing wickets your preference as a batsman is to bat the full 20 overs and that is what I did."