Mumbai: Pacer Dhawal Kulkarni said his three-for-19 return against a rampaging Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mumbai Indians’ 58-run win on Saturday was one of his best in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Playing his first match of the season, Kulkarni picked up the impressive figures as Mumbai pulled off a great win at the Wankhede Stadium here.
“I feel this is one of my best performances in the IPL,” he told IPLT20.com. “To get my first game this year and come out with a performance like this feels special. This was the opportunity that I got after a long time and I wanted to cash in on the opportunity.”
Kulkarni picked up three big wickets in Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Tilakaratne Dilshan and backed up the performance of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson in the initial overs.
“It does not feel great to sit in the dugout, because you always want to go and perform for the team,” he said. “I was working hard in the nets and working vigorously on my fitness over the past few weeks. I was waiting for this opportunity and I had the belief in myself that I would bowl well when I got the chance.
“It is great to end up on the winning side after bowling your heart out in the match. I do not want to stop here. I want to help my team win in the fixtures to come.”
Dhawal said getting the in-form Chris Gayle out early was crucial for Mumbai. “We knew we had to target the big three in the RCB set-up. Getting Gayle early was definitely crucial, but we had to get AB, Dilshan and Kohli as well, because they had the ability to chase totals. Once we had their wickets, we knew it was our game from there on,” he said.
Bangalore captain Virat Kohli, meanwhile, admitted his team were outplayed by the opposition for the first time this season.
“Our bowlers have bowled well in seven games,” he said. “It is not always going to happen in T20 that you are going to have a perfect performance on the day and I think we didn’t execute our plans as we wanted to.
“Mumbai’s bowlers bowled much better lengths than our bowlers and that was the difference. We were outplayed in this game, probably the first time in this tournament. It is going to happen. It has happened to every team. It is all about regrouping and focusing on the next game.”
RCB have logged six wins out of the nine games they have played, with all the victories coming at their home ground, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. But Kohli said not too much should be read into that statistic ahead of their trip to Jaipur to play Rajasthan Royals on Monday.
“We will play exactly the way we play at home,” he said. “The intent has to be positive. We have to be smart. Just one off day and people have already started saying we can’t win away from home.
“But the two games that we lost [at Hyderabad and Chennai] were not thrashes but last-ball finishes. Had we executed our plans well, we would have had eight wins out of nine. It is all about one ball or two inches in one game that we lost.
“You can have that tag after one loss or two losses, but we are not bothered about any tags, saying we are over-dependent on Chris [Gayle] or we can`t win away from home. Whoever plays good cricket on the day will win.”
Murali Kartik missed Saturday’s match due to illness and Kohli hoped the spinner would recover in time for Monday.
“I hope he is [fit]. He is our best Indian spinner. He has a lot of T20 experience. He has been economical in the games that he has played in. Hopefully he will be fine in the next game and we will have his services,” Kohli said.
— With inputs from PTI
Monday’s IPL matches
2.30pm UAE — Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore at Jaipur
6.30pm UAE — Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab at Mumbai
Live telecasts on CricOne