Kolkata Knight Riders legspinner Piyush Chawla has said his team enjoyed an advantage because they were playing all four of their Champions League Group A games in Hyderabad, where the pitch was "already on the slower side". Knight Riders began their campaign with a come-from-behind victory against Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday.
"In a short tournament like this, it is a good advantage if you're playing all your league games at one venue," Chawla told clt20.com after the three-wicket victory. "It gives you the chance to get used to the conditions and the wicket and enables you to plan your strategies in a better way. It also saves you from the hectic traveling.
"The pitch is already on the slower side. But if you hang in there, you can also score runs on it. As a spinner it is important to vary your pace and mix it up nicely."
Chasing 158, Knight Riders were 51 for 5 in nine overs before a brace of half-centuries from overseas allrounders Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russell secured victory with six balls to spare. The Knight Riders spinners were instrumental in restricting Super Kings to 157 for 4 - Chawla, Yusuf Pathan and Sunil Narine took all the wickets.
Chawla said bowling with Narine, who had figures of 4-0-9-1, gave him opportunities to take wickets. He dismissed Dwayne Smith and Faf du Plessis to slow Super Kings down. "Bowling with him [Narine] does help at times, like it did today," Chawla said. "He bowled four overs and gave away only nine runs. That took the pressure off me at the other end. However, sometimes, it also works the other way. Batsmen will often look to play Sunil out and that means I would be their hitting target. It does give you a better chance to pick wickets but also increases your chances of being clobbered."
Chawla said he had not had much of a break between the IPL and the CLT20, despite not having international commitments during that period. "Fifteen days after the IPL, I was back playing matches non-stop and then we had a camp in South Africa. It was a camp organised by KKR where we underwent some tough physical activities like park runs and mountain biking. It was very good for our fitness and the result is showing with the weight I have lost."
Knight Riders' second group game is against Lahore Lions on September 21.