Suryakumar Yadav is happy to have "finally played the role of a finisher" for Kolkata Knight Riders. Suryakumar struck an unbeaten 43 off 19 against Perth Scorchers on Wednesday night, carrying Knight Riders to a win - their 12th successive in Twenty20s - from a tricky position. Finishing off a game for his team is something he has always strived to do, Suryakumar said, and he was glad to get the job done despite being under immense pressure.
"I feel this has been the most high-pressure game I have played till date," Suryakumar told clt20.com. "I have never played the role of a finisher till date for Kolkata Knight Riders. I have been trying for quite some time now to finish games for Knight Riders, but I was never able to play that role successfully. I tried finishing games in the IPL as well, but I was making mistakes."
In Knight Riders' previous game, Suryakumar was unbeaten as the team got over the line, hitting 14 not out off 5. He said he did not consider that innings substantial enough to be that of a finisher, though it did give him confidence. "In the last game against Lahore Lions, though I had a very small role to play in that chase, that innings gave me the confidence that I can play my role to good effect. I carried that confidence into this game."
Against Scorchers, Suryakumar said the pressure really began to mount on him when the big-hitting Yusuf Pathan was out with 27 needed off 15. "That was the first time I became nervous because we all know that Yusuf Pathan is someone who can take the game away from the opposition from anywhere. At that time I remembered one thing that my captain and the coach had told me - "Whenever you keep calm, you can excel more during nervous situations." That is exactly what I did tonight and the result is there to be seen."
Given his interest in playing the finisher for Knight Riders, Suryakumar said he had more mental tactics to calm himself when under pressure in a chase. "I just don't think about the situation at that time," he said. "If I know that I have to score 29-odd runs from 11 balls then I have to do it; it is my job. I feel thinking about the pressure situation will only result in adding more pressure on myself. Instead I think about other things like 'what will I do after winning the game', 'what would an experienced player have done if he was in this situation?' I follow that and then take it from there."
In the Scorchers game, Surayakumar said it helped that the penultimate over was bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile, whom he had previously played with at Mumbai Indians. "I had an idea about his stock balls in the death overs, since I have played him when we both were a part of Mumbai Indians. I knew he had a good yorker and a slower delivery, which he might try and bowl at that point of time. He had bowled a slower bouncer before in that over. He then backed himself and bowled a length ball which had to be hit, so I hit it and it was all over."
Suryakumar took 15 off that Coulter-Nile over, including two sixes, bringing the equation down to a very-manageable five needed off the final over, and the win - and Knight Riders' place in the semis - was sealed with two balls to spare.