KKR spinners have dismissed Brendon McCullum for 7 times in IPL    BCCI
KKR spinners have dismissed Brendon McCullum for 7 times in IPL BCCI

One of the most experienced players of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Yusuf Pathan wishes that Gujarat Lions (GL) opener Brendon McCullum gets out early against them. KKR’s next match is going to be against GL on Friday at Eden Gardens. McCullum, who was part of the KKR side in the first few seasons of Indian Premier League (IPL), is one of the most dangerous players in T20 cricket. He is currently at second spot in the list of leading run-getters in the 10th edition of IPL with 225 runs so far at an average of 45 and a strike rate of 146.1. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: KKR vs GL Match 23

Yusuf praised McCullum and said, “He is a big player and did well for KKR earlier. McCullum is doing well for GL as well. Now you will only see on the match day, what he does and how we will response. We wish he does not score against us.”

Talking about his own performance, Yusuf expressed, “I am feeling very good about the way I have played but my game has not changed. My style of playing and the aggressiveness in batting has not changed. Also, I am getting more number of overs to bat. Looking at that part, I focused on playing long innings. I have been doing this since long time and enjoying it.”

He also opened up on the void in the opening slot after Chris Lynn got injured and added, “It is coach and captain’s job to look into the team combination. Besides opening slot, we have been doing well in other parts of the batting. Plenty of positives from there. I think the combination will only come after we continue to play and win. Definitely the issue of opening slot will be cleared soon and coach, captain are working on it.”

KKR have already beaten GL in their previous encounter in this season. They defeated GL by 10 wickets by chasing down 184. The KKR side have an advantage here. Reacting to it, Yusuf said, “When you are doing good in away matches and then in home games as well, this definitely boosts our confident. And we also playing good cricket at the same time. So our focus is to continue playing good cricket and convert the result into our side.”

When asked about whether Suresh Raina-led side would be easy meat for the men in purple, Yusuf said no team can be underestimated. “There is no weak team in any competition in any sport. All teams compete against one another and every team wants to win. There are two-three teams in every competition that despite their efforts don’t do so well like their other rivals. That doesn’t make them a weak team,” Pathan said.

KKR is a side which is known for consistent performance, especially since 2011. But in this edition, there has been many experiments done by KKR. Their bowling strength used to be spin, which has been now shifted to pacers. Moreover, currently runs are being leaked a lot in death overs by KKR pacers, especially from Trent Boult and Chris Woakes. Answering to this, Yusuf added a bit humour in it by saying, “KKR always give surprises. And this is too a surprise for everyone. It is not only death overs, there are many others things to talk about. But there are many positives as well in our team and dressing room. So instead of looking at negative things, we focus on positives. It is a learning process and we are learning from both negatives and positives. All these things will help us later in the tournament in big matches.”

After playing against GL, KKR will face the star studded Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). When asked about facing the likes of inform Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle of RCB, Yusuf said, “It is always enjoyable to watch Gayle and Kohli bat. Be it you are in opposition side or watching it on TV. One has classy batting style, while the other is hard-hitter. And the combination of these two is very enjoyable. Also, we get many things to learn from these players.”

In the last match of KKR against Delhi Daredevils (DD), Yusuf played a vital knock of 59 runs off 39 balls but got dismissed in the crunch situation and Manish Pandey had to finish the match. When asked about whether he regrets that or not, Yusuf accepted it and said that it is a ‘crime’ not to finish the match and added, “I should have finished the game. After batting so well, if I cannot finish, then it’s a crime according to me. Next time, I will try to finish the match with one or two overs to spare.”