(Mail Today): Murali Kartik has made a living out of being an attacking left-arm spinner, but feels each bowler in the Twenty20 format has to be smart about his strategy.
"In Twenty20, we get to play in postage stamp-sized grounds and as a bowler, you know that the batsmen will come hard at you every ball.
On flat tracks, there is the strategy of trying to buy a wicket (give away a few runs and let the batsman make a mistake), but that's just not possible in this format. You have to minimise the damage and thus it becomes very important to realise what ball to bowl when and to whom,” Kartik, who plays for the Pune Warriors India, told Mail Today.
The former India Test cricketer is glad that the Sahara group-owned franchise possesses a strong bowling lineup, which has been key to its success this season.
"The quality we have in our ranks is tremendous, especially the Indian bowlers like (Ashish) Nehra, (Ashoke) Dinda and Rahul (Sharma).
And then we have Alfonso Thomas, who I've played with at (English county) Somerset and whom I believe to be the best fast bowler in this format.
Picking the right attack from among all these guys is a good problem to have,” he said.
Kartik says the difference between the Pune side last year, when they finished ninth, and this one is down to the role of Sourav Ganguly.
"We always had a good team, and we have only managed to get better with the players we bought after the auction (which Sahara decided to skip owing to its spat with the BCCI). But the difference is in the ideas, with Sourav in charge this year, because he really knows how to build a collection of players into a 'team'. He's the one man in charge, being captain and mentor, and like in the past with the Indian team, he's been brilliant,” Kartik said.
Asked what he thought was different in this year's IPL than the last, Kartik said: "Of course, last year there was the World Cup, and India winning it was just a high that nothing could match up to.
But I believe the biggest difference is in the quality of the teams, which seems to have evened up a lot. I think the disbandment of Kochi Tuskers has had a major part to play because those players have gotten absorbed elsewhere.”
Pune played Delhi Daredevils twice in the space of three days and despite the mixed results, Kartik said he was glad he probably didn't have to play them again, unless the teams meet in the play-offs.
"Their batting line-up is just scary. You wonder what they will be like at full strength, with David Warner coming in a while.
"Aside from the power hitters, they also have a meethi chhuri in Mahela Jayawardene, who will calmly go about his business, won't thump you, but can hurt you badly,” the 35-year-old said.