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Shirin Sadikot in Cape Town

Great to maintain winning run: McKenzie

Lions batsman is glad his team carried the confidence from MI game to beat CSK

The Highveld Lions have turned the tables on two star-studded IPL teams now. After getting the better of defending CLT20 champions Mumbai Indians in their first match, the South African franchise stunned the Chennai Super Kings at Newlands by six wickets.

The Lions’ effort to chase 159 runs on a bowler-friendly wicket against a bowling attack comprising Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Albie Morkel was thoroughly commendable. Delighted at making it two wins from two games in the tournament so far, Lions’ senior batsman Neil McKenzie told clt20.com how pleased he was that the team carried forward the confidence from their win over MI to secure back-to-back wins in the tournament.

Excerpts from his interview:

This win must be very satisfying, given the conditions and the bowling attack

It’s always tough to come to Cape Town’s coastal wicket and chase. But we bowled up front to make early inroads and then backed it up with our batting. The two Aussies in CSK [Bollinger and HIlfenhaus] bowled incredibly well against us up front, put us under pressure and we’ve seen in this tournament so far that losing early wickets in the first six overs is critical. But we managed to get over the line. All credit to the boys; they all came good.

Did you carry the confidence of beating the Mumbai Indians into this match?

Yes, the good thing for us is that we’ve maintained the winning attitude. The last time, we did beat the Mumbai Indians and lost our next game and had to depend on the net run-rate to get into the next round. So, it was nice to maintain that winning momentum this time in this game.

You have defeated two IPL teams in two games now. That must feel special.

It’s always good to beat the IPL sides or any side for that matter. All the teams that are here are the champions in their own countries. So, we knew every game’s going to be a tough game. People have taken us in and there’s a lot of support for us.

How are you enjoying T20 format?

Yes, it’s a nice format to play in, especially at my age. We’ve got a good blend of some attacking youngsters and some wise old heads.

Did you have to get used to the format when you started out?

I was a bit of a slogger during my school days batting at No.4 or 5. But Jimmy Cook decided to put me at No.3 and made me more technically sound. Since the last couple of years I’m back batting at my old position. It’s nice to once again bat with a bit of flair and back myself to play the shots that I have.

Tell us something about the 19-year-old kid, Quinton de Kock. He seems special.

He’s been dominating at the Under-19 level since quite some time. For us, he played a four-day game recently and scored 196. He’s still learning his game, but he’s got a lot of guts and talent and hits the ball superbly.

Gulam Bodi (64 off 46 balls) played a gem of a knock, didn’t he?

Yes, Gulam came back really well today. He took a lot of flak in the last game for not being able to put Malinga away, which I think was unfair given the wicket we were playing on. For him to bounce back to bat as well as he did and win the Man of the Match award was tremendous. Really, hats off to Ghulam.

You’ve been in good touch with the bat. It took that incredible catch by Suresh Raina in the deep to get you out.

I thought he had left himself with too much work to catch that one. I don’t think I could have hit it any worse than I did. I think if I’d hit it with a dish cloth, it would’ve gone further. I was disappointed to get out but Chris Morris came in and played beautifully. Jean Symes has come and finished a lot of games for us before and he did it again. Credit to the guys.

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