By Lokendra Pratap Sahi
Chennai (The Telegraph): The Kolkata Knight Riders’s man of the moment, Manvinder Singh Bisla, spoke to The Telegraph, at the Taj Coromandel, on Monday afternoon.
The following are excerpts
How does it feel the day after ending the reign of the IPL’s most successful team?
I’m getting used to it (all the attention)… I’m very happy… It was a big moment for all of us at the Chepauk. The first win is always remembered.Is your life going to change in any way?
I don’t think so… As far as I’m concerned, I only did my job. I was selected for a particular role and I’m happy that I delivered. Frankly, I don’t think I did anything which was not expected of me.
Coach Trevor Bayliss told me that you were only informed that you’d be playing during the team meeting some hours before the final. Did you get enough time to mentally prepare yourself?
Even if you’re not playing regularly, you are expected to be ready if an opportunity comes your way. So, I’d been preparing myself, waiting for another chance to play for the Knights.
What was your reaction?
I was excited.
Whatever the yardstick, chasing 191 in a T20 game is a huge ask. What was the mood in the Knights’ dressing room at the end of the Chennai Super Kings innings?
Our thinking was positive… Basically, that if they could get 190, then we could also match them… In fact, do one better. At no point, did we have a defeatist attitude.
That was the mood within the team… What were your own thoughts?
I was positive too. I knew that if I played out 3-4 balls, then my confidence would grow and I could go for my shots. I’m not saying this because I got 89, but I was actually feeling very confident. That the wicket had some bounce meant it would suit my batting.
What did captain Gautam Gambhir tell you?
To enjoy myself… I don’t think Gautam said anything else.
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Weren’t you rattled when the in-form Gambhir fell in the very first over?
I did get tense… I did begin to worry… Gautam, after all, had been batting so well and the team was banking on him to help chase down 191. However, I was fortunate to forge a big partnership with Jacques Kallis, who is such an outstanding batsman.
So, what was it like batting with Kallis?
Maaza aa raha tha… Kallis hits the ball so cleanly, that the confidence of the non-striker gets lifted. Kallis is truly an inspiration.
At the end of it all, what did Shah Rukh Khan tell you?
Shah Rukh was very emotional… While he did have words of praise for everybody, I can’t recall a specific comment. But I must say that Shah Rukh and the franchise have been immensely supportive right through.
Have you decided to dedicate your MoM award-winning performance to somebody?
To my teammates.
After the superb innings in the final, are you confident of coming into the reckoning when India’s squad for the World T20, later this year, is picked?
See my job is to play and get the runs and ’keep wickets tidily. Beyond that, I shouldn’t be thinking of anything. It’s up to the selectors to either consider me or not consider me.
Now, do you think you’ll be under more pressure than usual?
No. I’ll just continue to do my job and if I do that, then I see no reason why I’ll be put under more pressure.
How do you relax?
I love cycling and I’m fond of reading biographies of sportspersons… The last book that I have read was on Pete Sampras.
After your stellar show in the final, have you cemented your place in the Knights’ line-up?
Everything depends on the combination, which is finalised by the captain and the coach. It’s not for me to worry about such things. If I get opportunities, then I’ll obviously be doing my best.
But, surely, you must be aspiring to play for India?
Of course, that is there… Every cricketer dreams of playing for his country and I’ve had the same dream. But, as I’ve said, it’s not for me to keep thinking about it.
Are you a batsman who ’keeps or a ’keeper who bats?
I’m more of a batsman-’keeper.
Is there somebody you have looked up to as a batsman-’keeper ?
The IPL has given opportunities to interact with Gilchrist. How often have you spoken to him?
I attended a Deccan Chargers camp for a few days a couple of years ago and that’s when I talked ’keeping with him. Gilchrist offered tips, which have been helpful.
To go back to Gambhir… What is he like as captain?
Gautam has that aggression and bats so well, always keen to lead from the front… I’ve known Gautam from the U-19 days.
You were with the Knights last season as well. What has made the difference this time?
Look, we played very well last season as well, but lost to the Mumbai Indians in the playoffs… The playoffs can get tricky, particularly if you are playing in the Eliminators.
The last one… What has IPL-V taught you?
Plenty of things… I must, however, mention that watching Kallis at nets and watching Brendon McCullum train during practice has been so helpful. At the end of seven weeks, I think I’ve emerged a better cricketer.