We Need to Keep Our Focus, Says Kumble

Chennai, Mar 31 (IANS): Despite being placed second on the Indian Premier League leaderboard, Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Anil Kumble asserted his team needs to keep its focus when they take on the Chennai Super Kings here Wednesday.

"It will be nice to start the second half of the tournament with a win, but I expect the Super Kings to come hard at us and we need to keep our focus. The Super Kings are a good side and they have done well in the last two seasons, but they are rather off-colour this time," said Kumble at a media conference.

The former India captain, while welcoming the five-day break his team had, said they are in a good frame of mind for Wednesday's game, especially with two top foreign players, Kevin Pietersen of England and Aussie Cameron White having joined the side a couple of days ago.

"As a captain, it is a tough job for me with KP (Pietersen) and White having joined us. We need to take a different approach from here on and have to decide how to fit in these two players," he said.

Kumble praised the domestic players in the team, especially Robin Uthappa, Virat Kohli, Vinay Kumar and Manish Pandey, for their fine performances which he said contributed to Challengers' four wins in six matches.

"We are blessed to have them, but we are also looking at how to fit in other domestic players. I am quite happy with our top order batting and Twenty20 is mostly about getting runs on the board," he said.

Earlier, Matthew Hayden, the burly Super Kings opener, was brimmed with optimism and said given the fickleness of Twenty20, his team could bounce back.

Refusing to believe that all is lost for the Super Kings after five defeats in seven matches, Hayden said: "True, we have had some losses but Twenty20 is very fickle. The momentum can quickly change."

Weighing the team's chances with Super Kings needing to win majority of their remaining seven games to get back into the semi-final contention, Hayden asserted that it will boil down to individual player challenging himself to lift his game.

"If you look back, most of the matches, they could have gone either way. For instance, against Royal Challengers in Bangalore, we were in control up until the 16th over, but allowed the match to slip away. In other games too, we were in with a chance," he pointed out.

Hayden dismissed the super-over loss to the Kings XI Punjab at this very venue (Chepauk) as "unfortunate", where the Super Kings failed to score one run off the final two deliveries and the match ended in a tie leading to the super-over.

On his own batting form that has been rather patchy going by his own lofty standards, Hayden admitted he needs to stay at the wicket longer, preferably up until the end overs.

"I need to get into the back half of the game and personally, I would like to carry my bat through the innings," he said, while declining to talk about his switching from the conventional bat to the Mongoose and the consequent impact on his batting.

Regarding the frequent changes in the team, especially at the top of the order and in the bowling attack, Hayden said the Super Kings picks a playing eleven according to the conditions.

"We had different conditions and so you pick your best side for the game. We had slow pitches and bouncy tracks, so obviously you cannot go in with the same combination for all the matches," he opined.

Hayden admitted it is a positive to have a genuine fast bowler in the ranks, something that the Super Kings do not have at the moment, but pointed out that spinners too can play a big role.

"Yes, velocity is the key, but you have seen teams opening the bowling with spinners. No doubt, it is a risk worth taking, but it can either come off in a big way or will not," he said.




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