Being the defending champion one would expect Kolkata Knight Riders’ L Balaji to be under pressure to defend the title, but the Tamil Nadu captain states that there is no point in putting pressure on oneself in this format of the game. He states that it is a pleasure to begin IPL 6 as a defending champion and believes that key for having a go at retaining the trophy was enjoying the game and playing as a unit.
“One year has passed since we won the crown. We hope to use that experience this year but you know things change fast in this format of the game. So the key is to keep the mind free and start from scratch and play as a unit. Having said that we are charged up as a unit and are keen to have a crack at the crown,’’ said Balaji.
“Last year the reason for our success was teamwork with each and every guy performing his role that helped us bag our maiden IPL title,’’ added Balaji.
There are nine teams in the IPL with Sun Risers the new team in the fray. Plus key Chennai Super Kings players are in tremendous form.
“As I said earlier the format is such that no team can be called favourites. The IPL what one have seen over the last five years has been full of contradictions. All nine teams are good and capable of winning the title. So we believe that whichever team starts and capitalises has a good chance to win the crown,” explained Balaji.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir who was dropped from the Test series against Australia proved his worth by scoring a century for India A against the visitors.
When he got an opportunity to replace an injured Shikhar Dhawan in the fourth Test against Australia Gambhir was diagnosed for jaundice and is yet to recover fully. “Gambhir is a wonderful leader who leads by example. His leadership went a long way in us winning the crown last year. There are still a few days to go before the final team is announced. We hope that he gets ready by that time,” said an optimistic Balaji.
Balaji one of the few players to take a hat-trick in the shortest format of the game is pleased with the way he was bowling in the All-India BCCI Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 games.
“I bowled pretty well those four overs. I did not find any discomfiture. But I am unhappy that Tamil Nadu could not advance to the next stage. But now I am focused on doing well in the IPL and God willing I should be among wickets again,” said a modest Balaji. Playing for Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan is not easy as the expectations and pressure would be sky high.
“You know something Shahrukh has never interfered in cricket matters at all. He has not put any undue pressure on us. On the other hand he has been supportive of us when we did not do well. He backed us and said that we had it in us to do well. And perhaps his backing and the confidence that he had in our abilities helped us win the title last year,’’ signed off Balaji promising another exciting fare from KKR.