Kolkata should clinch IPL 2012: Kumar Sangakkara

After beating Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders have climbed to the top of the points table for the first time AFP

By CricketCountry Staff

Hyderabad: May 10, 2012

Deccan Chargers skipper Kumar Sangakkara on Thursday picked Kolkata Knight Riders as favourites to win Indian Premier League (IPL) 2012.

“On form, I would say Kolkata Knight Riders. They have been playing exceptionally well. I think you have to give credit to the way Gautam [Gambhir] has managed to get those guys to gel together. They have some top quality in that side,” said the Chargers skipper.

Referring to other strong sides in the IPL, Sangakkara chose Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Daredevils as one of the most balanced sides in the tournament.

“The most balanced sides in this tournament appeared to be Delhi and Chennai. Unfortunately, Chennai has had a kind of an up-and-down season. Royal Challengers [Bangalore] have an incredible side as well,” he said.

Placing emphasis on the importance of local Indian players in the team, Sangakkara said, “I think the most important thing when you look at all these sides is the quality of the local Indian players. Delhi has got Viru [Virender Sehwag], [Ajit] Agarkar, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan. So does Kolkata when you look at Yusuf Pathan, Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary, [Laxmi Ratan] Shukla.”

Compared to other teams Deccan Chargers are having a dismal run in IPL 5 with just five points in 12 games they have played so far. The former Sri Lankan skipper felt fielding and bowling during death overs have been below par which led to their downfall.

“I think one of the most disappointing aspects of the season has been our catching in the field. I think there were a lot of catches [dropped] in matches that we should have won; that s cost us a few games,” Sangakkara was quoted as saying by the official website of Indian Premier League.

“Another thing is that we have been in winning positions in lot of the games, and games that we should have closed out, we really didn t hold our nerve due to our bowling at death and fielding skills. Bowling, of course, majority of the games we bowled really well; and batting, we had a solid season, but we didn t deliver in the crunch moments,” he added.

On a broader perspective Sangakkara also pointed the transfer of important players during the auction before IPL 5 like Kevin Pietersen, purple cap holder of 2009 Pragyan Ojha, young bowler Harmeet Singh who could have made a difference to the team.

“We ve lost KP, and KP is a big cricketer. So is Harmeet. He has done a wonderful job for Deccan and he is very useful on selected tracks. Unfortunately, those are decisions that have been made, but we have enough quality in the side to win. Of course, we need to keep looking for the best Indian players, develop them and help them along,” he said.

Sangakkara also spoke about Ishant Sharma s absence and poor form of leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

“It is very hard when you have Mishy [Amit Mishra] and Ishant not at their best. But to be fair to Mishy, he has had quite a bit of work done surgery-wise, and it s been a struggle for him fitness-wise to be at his best. He is a fabulous bowler, especially in the shorter version of the game and we value his presence and his contribution very highly,” he said.

With four games left in the tournament and having just five points on the table, Deccan are no more in contention for a playoffs spot. However skipper Sangakkara said he would still encourage the team to enter the field with a positive intent to win.

“The number one thing is to win. That is the most important thing when you play for the franchise because you have to take pride in being a Deccan Charger. How much the franchise looks after you, you have to repay that debt with results on the field and that responsibility is always on us. So, while giving more players opportunity to play, we realistically have to keep building the side towards winning each game,” concluded Sangakkara.