Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kulkarni has filled in very well for Zaheer | Column by Sanath Jayasuriya



THE win against Bangalore on the weekend was an important lifeline for the Mumbai Indians, keeping us in the chase for the semifinals. Hopefully, by the time you read this we’ll have built on that with a win against Kings XI Punjab, but even if we don’t, the equation remains the same: we have to win our last three games.

We know only too well we’ve
been underachieving thus far in the tournament. However, what I also know is that we have the class and temperament to win this tournament. If we can fight our way into the semifinals, our tough run in qualification might just turn out to be an advantage. We will be battle hardened and used to performing under pressure.

The big positive from the weekend was our top-order batting. We lost Sachin (Tendulkar) early but we did not panic. The promotion of Ajinkya Rahane worked beautifully. He is a talented cricketer and I’ve been really impressed with him. He has the strokes and his nimble feet against the spinners were a treat to watch.

The 104-run partnership between JP Duminy— who was brilliant once again—and Rahane was
just what we needed. We did not set our sights too high and our 158-run target was always going to be competitive as long as we bowled well. In the end, although the margin of victory was just 16 runs, we won quite comfortably.

Another exciting young Indian talent, Dhawal Kulkarni, led the way with some miserly seam bowling. Replacing the injured Zaheer Khan, one of the leading bowlers in the world during the past year, is no easy thing. But he showed a good head for a young 20-year-old and responded brilliantly to the pressure.

Much of the IPL’s media focus is on the overseas players or India’s big name players, but ulti
mately one of the most exciting things about the tournament is the global platform it gives for India’s upcoming players. It gives the likes of Ajinkya and Dhawal a chance to showcase the talent and also a perfect arena to hone their skills and gather precious experience. This will be a huge plus for India in the coming years.

From our perspective, it is wonderful to see them flourish for the Mumbai Indians and I hope they continue in the next week. Certainly, after the weekend, the mood in the camp has been upbeat and determined. We know we have the ability. We just have to focus on delivering that potential at the right time.

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