ISLAMABAD: Mohammad Hafeez the Lahore Lions captain in Champions League Twenty20 2014 in Hyderabad said that we believe the way they are showing their talent in the field, as batsmen and bowlers, it’s really good but we have to improve as a fielding unit, we really have to raise the standard of fielding against Kolkata Knight Riders.
“Their Oppo Champions League Twenty20 2014 Group A opener against Kolkata Knight Riders was always going to be difficult for Lahore Lions.
Their inexperienced middle order crumbled against Sunil Narine before Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa helped complete a fairly easy chase of 152 at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, India.
Despite that, Mohammad Hafeez, the Lahore captain who seemed quite confident on the eve of the match, said he was happy with his team’s performance. “We played good cricket,” he said. “As a captain, I’m very happy with the performance of the team. We achieved the target we wanted, which was 150-plus on this pitch that was going to turn.”
Put in to bat, Lahore did start well with Ahmed Shehzad on the offensive.
They looked good to set a big total, but against Narine, who ended with magnificent figures of 3 for 9, they didn’t stand a chance. Narine toyed with Saad Naseem (0), Umar Siddiq (2) and Asif Raza (0), all of whom seemed clueless against his bag of tricks.
Hafeez said the experience would help his players grow. “The more they play, the more they will learn. And at this stage, it gave them all what they really needed a real idea as to where they are and where they have to improve themselves,” he said. “We believe the way they are showing their talent in the field, as batsmen and bowlers, it’s really good. But we have to improve as a fielding unit; we really have to raise the standard of fielding.”
Raza twice dropped easy opportunities the first when Uthappa was on 14 and later when Gambhir was on 58 and there were numerous misfields that cost crucial runs. Despite that, Lahore did capitalise on a bit of confusion later on amongst Kolkata’s batsmen and picked six wickets, four of which came in the last five overs, after Kolkata had scored 100 without loss in the first 12.
Hafeez said the result would have been different had the fielding been better.
“It’s difficult. The domestic players in our team, outside of the six international cricketers, they need a clear picture of what is needed, an improvement with regard to fielding, game awareness,” he said. “I think CLT20 is providing them with that platform and the more they will play, the more they will learn.
The team is playing very well as a unit, but we’ve to put in more efforts into fielding. Had we taken a couple of chances earlier on, it could have been a different story.”
Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav was quite elated after scoring the winning runs for Kolkata. After Gambhir and Uthappa laid the perfect platform, all of Manvinder Bisla, Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Andre Russell failed to see the chase through, leaving Suryakumar with the job of closing the deal.
Needing a run-a-ball in an increasingly nervy final over, Suryakumar swiped one through to the backward square-leg boundary to finish the job.
“It felt very good scoring the winning runs, and felt very good to finish a match for Kolkata Knight Riders for the first time. It was great playing against bowlers of international standard, and slowly I am getting good experiences,” he said. “Winning in the last over is obviously not an easy thing to do.We lost wickets in the last few overs, but there wasn’t any pressure on me. We need a run a ball, and it was not that difficult for us to finish the game.”