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Mitchell Johnson says he has ‘leadership role’ in Kings XI Punjab set-up

Mitchell Johnson was in tremendous form in the series leading up to the IPL © IANS (File Photo)
Mitchell Johnson was in tremendous form in the series leading up to the IPL © IANS (File Photo)

Abu Dhabi: Apr 27, 2014

The failure of the Kings XI Punjab (KCIP) batsmen was more than made up for by their bowlers in the low-scoring win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson says it has proved that his side is the most balanced in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). Punjab clinched a 23-run win after setting a target of 132 for KKR last night to continue their unbeaten streak in the IPL.

“I remember sitting around with the Australian team on our tour to South Africa, watching the IPL auction. When it came to an end, I actually said that this seems like a very well-balanced and all-round side,” Johnson told the official website of the IPL.

“It seems to be going on that way for us at the moment. We’ve had some very good wins and tonight’s was one of the better ones. On that Abu Dhabi wicket, I think we pretty much got a par score and it was always going to be tough batting second on it. We’ve been sticking to our guns and have been going really well,” he said.

Johnson, who was in top form during the Ashes last year, has been a slow-starter in the IPL but rediscovered some of the touch in last night’s match by grabbing a couple of wickets.

“Yes, I’ve started the tournament quite slowly coming back from my toe infection, and it has taken me a few games to get into it. Probably the best I felt with my bowling was during the training yesterday; I felt like I am in my cricket mode again…That’s where I wanted to get to, bowling as aggressively as I was a few days ago,” he said.

Johnson also spoke about his strategy to deal with KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, who has been woefully out of form. “I have played a fair bit against him and I’ve always enjoyed bowling to him. If you get the ball to move away from him just a little bit, you’re in the game,” he said.

Asked if he has undertaken a leadership role being the most successful international bowler in KXIP, Johnson said he does try to reach out to the younger bowlers of the side. “Yes, that is something I had thought about doing before coming here and I spoke to the team about taking up that role as a senior international player. These young guys coming through are willing to learn and are very good listeners. I remember what I was like when I was their age. You look up to the senior guys for a bit of advice.

“Sandeep [Sharma] went for a couple of boundaries in his last over [the 18th of the innings] and I told him, ‘Just keep sticking to your guns’ because that’s how you learn to overcome situations. If I can keep helping the young guys, we will keep winning like this,” he said.

On how he uses the bouncer in the T20 format, Johnson said one has to be careful. “Since you are allowed only one bouncer per over in the T20s, you have to be careful. I still try to use it to get the batsmen thinking on their feet and let them know they’re not going to always get balls on the half. It’s more about mind games in the T20 format,” he explained.

“Overall, you can still bowl a good short ball at the ribs and get the desired result. Guys will go for more attacking shots off short balls in this format and that makes it an interesting delivery to bowl. It makes the contest between the bat and the ball more enjoyable,” he signed off.

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