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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

Great to see a NZ team doing well: McCullum

While gutted to end up on losing side, KKR batsman is happy for his countrymen

The Kolkata Knight Riders have come into CLT20 2012 with a huge reputation, being the IPL champions. But going their performance in their first two games of the tournament, they haven’t lived up to the high standards expected off them. After losing to the Delhi Daredevils, KKR were now handed a huge seven-wicket win (with 14 balls to spare) by the Auckland Aces at a windy Newlands.

In KKR’s total of 137/6 Brendon McCullum – playing against his own countrymen – top-scored with 40 runs off 35 balls. And while the Kiwi batsman was disappointed with ending on the losing side, he was glad that a team from New Zealand is finding its feet in a big tournament like CLT20.

Excerpts from his interview with clt20.com:

For a strong team like KKR to lose first two matches by such huge margins, what’s been going wrong?

We’re starting off very slowly and also the conditions are very different from back in India. We’ve failed to get all three aspects of the game together so far. But we’re not out of the competition yet; we need a certain things to go our way and we’ll play a lot better in the next two games. We’re not quite there at the moment. We’ve got two big games to go and we can’t be too harsh on ourselves. That will only make it more difficult for us to improve our game in the coming games.

What was the reason behind leaving out Brett Lee in conditions that were perfect for him?

Brett would’ve bowled very well on this wicket but we have the constraint of playing four overseas players, which makes it a bit tough to find the right balance. We were looking to shore up our batting with Shakib in the team. Shakib’s an excellent player as well. But it’s one of those things that we’d have done differently in hindsight.

Was troubling the New Zealand batsmen with spin the plan?

Yes, the New Zealand batsmen are not as good against spinners as they are against pace bowlers. But even then, in the hindsight we probable didn’t quite get it right. Having said that, there are many other areas in which we should’ve been a lot better. We didn’t manage to get the total on the board; 160 would’ve been a very good score on that wicket. So, rather than focusing on that one aspect, we should work on our overall game.

Are these tough conditions for the Indian batsmen to get going?

These are pretty trying conditions. Sometimes, on wickets like this you do need a little bit of luck and unfortunately we haven’t had that in the first two games. Even very good batsmen can be susceptible on these wickets.

How much is Jacques Kallis’s lack of form hurting the team?

Jacques was injured last game and retired hurt. Today the way he got out [outside edge to Azhar Mahmood’s in-swinger] only he could’ve nicked that ball – he’s so good. I’m sure he’ll be among runs in the next two games. His bowling has been outstanding

Being the in-form senior player of the team, do you think you got out at the wrong time?

My plan was to see off Azhar’s over and look to attack the bowler at the other end and in the last few overs. But I got out just when that phase was really about to start and that was frustrating. In these matches when you’re in, you should carry on till the end; but it doesn’t come off at times.

Although they beat KKR today, somewhere in your heart, are you happy that a team from New Zealand is doing so well?

They were the enemy today, but from a New Zealander’s point of view, it’s a good thing that a team from there does well. They’ve dominated the domestic T20 competition for the last two years and have spent plenty of time here in preparation. They’re playing some excellent cricket. It’s great to see from that they are winning games in this tournament and hopefully New Zealand’s involvement in CLT20 continues.

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