Yesterday's win against Kings XI Punjab was a very positive one for us, especially on the batting front, and it felt great to be the first team to break the 200 barrier in IPL II. It was a good toss to lose since it was a very good wicket to bat on and I had a good partnership with Naman Ojha. We started off well, got stuck into it and went with the momentum to finish off well. In fact, it was a great effort by everybody.
We play in Pretoria tomorrow and face a resurgent Bangalore side. We did not play well against them in the first match. After that win, they had a string of losses but after pulling off three wins in a row, their confidence will be very high - especially after their last game, a convincing win against Mumbai.
Kevin Pietersen left them with a win, and Anil Kumble has taken up from where he left off. Anil is a wonderful player and person, plays with good spirit and is a great competitor. It is his personality that is helping them gell and get their combination right.
They do have four South African players in their side, all of whom I know pretty well. Of course, I have played with Kallis and Boucher a lot more than Du Preez and Van de Merwe. This can turn out to be a plus point in our plan of action against them, but we are actually focussing more on ourselves, and on keeping our level of play high.
Both teams, however, seem more or less level: they have a fair bit of options, but then, so do we. I feel we have the players to combat them tomorrow but I still say it is about who performs better on the day.
For the fans, though, it will be rare treat to see Warne and Kumble — two of the greatest spinners — in action, and a challenge for us batsmen to go up against two world class players like them.
Back to yesterday's game: Warnie's tactic of bringing in Amit Singh and Naman paid off with it's element of surprise. All the bowlers did very well, actually, and adapted to the conditions.
This could very be the turning point in our campaign. The bowlers have been doing well throughout the tournament, but we are now beginning to get our combination right. I knew it was important for me to give the team a good start, and hopefully the confidence gained by yesterday's win will stand us in good stead. If we can take this confidence into the rest of our games and play well, nothing can stop us from going all the way. (Gameplan)