September 25, 2014

Hyderabad, Sep 24: Legendary Pakistani pacer Wasim Akram has given credit for Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) series of victories in the ongoing Champions League T20 to captain Gautam Gambhir saying he is marshalling his resources well and going for wickets in every game. The KKR bowling coach said Gambhir is in tremendous form and he is keeping the team together like a family.

“He is one of the best captains in Champions League because his psyche is to get wickets. In Twenty20 the only way you can stop runs is to get wickets. That is why if you notice after six overs, after eight runs instead of bowling part time bowlers and instead of bowling dot balls, he tries to get wickets and that is the key to his success,” said Akram. KKR, which won both the matches it played in Oppo Champions League T20 so far, will take on Perth Scorchers Wednesday at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) champions won their 11th match in a row by beating Lahore Lions here Sunday night. “The best thing about KKR is that it is a family including manager, support staff and us guys. We enjoy each other’s company. Win or lose we stay together. It is a sign of a good team. We support each other,” said Akram. He pointed out that even foreign players have gelled well. “Morne Morkel and Shakib (al Hasan) have formed Whatsup group. After every match they send us congratulations. They are not with us but they are part of the team while being in their respective countries.”

Akram doesn’t believe that Wednesday’s game will be easy for the team. “It’s a very competitive tournament. Even Lahore (Lions) fought till the last delivery. The Australian team is the same. You can’t take any team lightly in this Champions League,” he said. “From our end we would like to do well in every game and top our group. But the opposition tomorrow is also a very good side. They are champions of Australia. They have three spinners and we have seen spinners are more handy so far in this Champions League than fast bowlers.”

Akram said spin is KKR’s strength. He feels while in T20 any bowler can go for runs, spinners are better as the batsman has to hit them out of the ground and hence there will be more chances of his getting out. On Sunil Narine, Akram said he is the best Twenty20 bowler in the world and he is getting better and stronger day by day. “He is confident. You give him first over or last over or 15th over, he produces something for the team,” he said. The former Pakistani captain said no batsman can understand Narine. He said the opposition could at the best adopt the strategy ‘we used to adopt against Muralidharan by scoring 30 runs in his four overs or run a ball but don’t give him a wicket.’

Akram admitted that KKR’s pace bowling is a bit rusty. He said they were working to improve and hoped that it will get better. “(Andre) Russel is playing but Pat Cummins was a bit rusty. You have to play matches. You may do nets as long as you like but unless you play matches it takes time to get rhythm.” The KKR coach said Jacques Kallis had some neck problem but he is feeling better and is fit.


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