Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar said he had the belief that “only a spinner can be a game changer” but it was skipper Rohit Sharma’s confidence that brought the best out of him as he spun Mumbai Indians to a 10-run win against Kolkata Knight Riders here.
Chasing a target of 153, KKR produced a 72-run opening stand in 8.5 overs and needed another 72 from the last 10 overs but the 21-year-old Chahar pulled off quite a coup, taking four wickets en route to his game-changing 4 for 27 in the IPL match on Tuesday night.
“… he (Rohit) told me “bowl with confidence… you’re bowling well, sometimes even I’m not able to understand (your variations in the nets). They (KKR batters) would also feel the same way. Just keep your focus, bowl in good length and try to get spin’,” Chahar said in the virtual press-conference.
“I knew if there was someone who could be the gamechanger in such a match, it was the spinners. I always had the confidence.”
Chahar, who has played three T20Is for India, said he didn’t feel much pressure as he is used to bowling to the likes of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard at the nets.
“I’m used to bowling to the top Indian players in the nets, and when you do that, the pressure is less in a match scenario like this. So there was nothing much going in my mind,” he said.
“This is my fourth year with MI, I’ve been bowling to the likes of Pollard, Hardik, considered among the world’s best hitters. So I don’t feel much pressure.”
After Chahar dismissed KKR top-scorer Nitish Rana for his fourth wicket, Krunal Pandya removed Shakib-Al-Hasan.
“We both played well. He (Krunal) also had a good spell, restricting the run flow. We got some help from the wicket,” he said.
With the small target, KKR were still in the chase despite the collapse but Chahar said they never gave up.
“It was a close match. We always had the belief that (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Trent) Boult would turn the match in the death overs,” he signed off.
Mumbai Indians will next play Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai.
Pitch wasn’t easy, KKR will be back strongly: Russell
Kolkata Knight Riders’ big-hitting all-rounder Andre Russell blamed it on the pitch as he dissected his team’s narrow 10-run loss to Mumbai Indians here and asserted that the side will bounce back strongly in the coming matches.
The Eoin Morgan-led side dominated the game almost in its entirety but choked in the final few overs to lose in a modest chase of 152.
Needing just 30 runs from 27 deliveries, KKR’s experienced finishers — Russell and Dinesh Karthik — faltered big time as the five-time champions Mumbai pulled off an epic comeback to secure their first win of the season.
“It’s a difficult wicket to bat on, it was not easy for a new batter to come in and start hitting from ball one. It’s very challenging,” Russell, who got out for nine off 15 balls, said at the post-match virtual interaction.
“Even for me, the ball was a bit up and down so it’s not the easiest pitch to hit on. No matter how good you are, you still need a couple of balls to actually get your eyes in.
“Unfortunately, a good finisher like myself and DK, we didn’t get bat to balls. I think if we did get a few boundaries the game would be over. We definitely feel disappointed but at the end of the day, it’s not the end of the road. It’s our second game,” he added.
Russell said they would learn from the mistakes and will make a comeback in the next few games.
“We’re gonna go back to the drawing board. We definitely are playing some good cricket as a team. It’s about moving on from this game and going from strength to strength.”
Needing to accelerate, Russell was seen blocking Krunal Pandya and even got a reprieve when the left-arm spinner spilled a simple catch off his own bowling.
“We don’t try to do the wrong thing all the time, but it just happened you know. It’s bat and ball, sometimes it goes your way sometimes it doesn’t…I was looking to rotate the strike, not allow too many dot balls. I didn’t get any runs and that added a bit of pressure on me,” he admitted.
KKR got off to a flying start with opener Nitish Rana slamming a second successive half-century as he along with Shubman Gill put on an opening stand of 72 runs from 53 balls.
But leg-spinner Chahar brought about the turnaround, grabbing four wickets from his four overs before KKR choked at the death.
“It’s a game of cricket. We definitely have to learn from this. I’ve trust and confidence in the boys. We are still confident, we are still playing some good cricket, and I’m proud of the boys,” Russell said, giving his full support to the team.
KKR next face Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sunday’s afternoon match to conclude the Chennai leg of their campaign.