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Prajakta Pawar in Jaipur

T20 is not just a young man’s game: Hodge

38-year-old RR batter talks about excelling in fast-paced format

Coming in to bat at No.6 in the 14th over of the match, Brad Hodge changed the complexion of Rajasthan Royals’ innings with a scintillating 46. The veteran cricketer smashed the ball all over the Sawai Mansingh Stadium as he took the home team to a competitive total against the Highveld Lions. The 38-year-old, who has been assigned the responsibility of guiding the lower-middle order, took over when RR were at 110 for four. He helped them to 183 at the end of their innings with an entertaining knock.

Hodge clobbered the Lions bowling with gusto during his 23-ball stay at the crease. Speaking about batting in the shortest format of the game, he told clt20.com, “You get to smack the ball; that is the best thing. For me Test cricket is true cricket where you test your skill as a batsman. T20 tests your ability to hit the ball along with your skill. You have to hit the ball 80-90 meters to hit a six and I think it is really good fun. I used to play baseball as a young kid and Twenty20 is a bit similar to baseball where you whack and try and get a couple of home runs, and enjoy yourself because that’s what it’s all about.”

In his exclusive post-match interview Hodge also spoke about his team, Pravin Tambe – who finished with match winning figures of 3-0-15-4 – and the convincing victory that has take the side to the top of Group A standings.

Excerpts from his interview:

Whoever said T20 was a young man’s game?

No one said it was a young man’s game! For me cricket in general is about applying your skill and your talent. It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s all about being capable. And if you still got the skills, then it is pretty important. The one thing I have got is knowledge, and I could put that knowledge together with skill, and that is a powerful tool.

How important is experience?

Experience is important for all cricketers, especially here where it is high-level competition. This competition involves lot of experience and skill and that’s exactly why I bat lower down the order; that’s what Rahul Dravid wants. I am doing exactly what he is asking. I am trying my best and this game is all about applying your skill as best as you possibly can.

Given the run-fest in the previous game, what total were you looking at when asked to bat first?

I thought it was a 180-run wicket. I think this is one of the best wickets that I have seen in Jaipur. And the curator has done a really good job. Having two matches here (on the same day) and seeing lots of runs the whole day; I thought it was a 180 wicket and we got there. It was important to defend that and I thought we did a pretty good job.

How much pressure was there having lost the top order when you came to bat?

Not everyone clicks in every match. At Rajasthan Royals, we try and make sure that if it’s your day, you get the job done as professionally as you possibly can. In Twenty20 there are only two or three guys who are going to have a really good day. So you got to make sure that person really nails it. That’s what we sort of bind our team on.

What is your take on Pravin Tambe’s bowling? He was introduced into the attack late but at a critical juncture when the game was evenly poised.

That’s the key of having leg-spin as an option. Leg-spin is always dangerous. Doesn’t matter who you are, if you have a leg-spinner, he can cause some problems. And that is precisely what happened. That’s why we picked him today, though Rahul Shukla bowled well in the last match. He had bowled two overs for six runs and he had bowled well against Kieron Pollard and everyone. But after having a look at the wicket we made this decision. That’s what the Rajasthan Royals are – we are very flexible the way we play, the way we pick teams. And good work by the management for making the courageous decision and picking him.

Having outplayed both opponents so far, Rajasthan Royals are on top of the group’s points table. Your thoughts

Even during the IPL 2013 we played very good cricket and we could have made it to the final. We were among the top three teams – Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. So it is no surprise to us that we have got off to a good start and played well.

We play well at home, we play very well here. It’s a beautiful stadium; the outfield is good, wicket is good and we know the conditions. For us the only thing is, not knowing the other teams. So we have to just adapt a little bit and try and work on what we are trying to do well, and execute as best as we can.

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