Karn Sharma: League defeats won’t affect our final performance

The leg-spinner feels that Mumbai Indians’ three losses against Rising Pune Supergaint this season will not hamper its performance on Sunday.

Karn Sharma is geared up to take on RPS in Sunday’s final in Hyderabad.   -  PTI

Gone are the days when spinners were considered to be liabilities at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. In seasons past, the flat pitch, small boundaries and big hitters had made life difficult for the slower bowlers. This trend has since been reversed.

This year, the surface has evolved into a slow turner, which offers turn and grip. A wily tweaker can make his mark, provided he has the skill and uses it efficiently.

Mumbai Indians' Karn Sharma did just that, helping his side go past Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL Qualifer-2 held in Bengaluru on Friday. The leg-spinner was at his very best, and recorded a match-winning four for 16 haul.

Karn has not been a permanent fixture in the MI eleven this year, with left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya and seasoned offie Harbhajan Singh getting the nod in the first half of the tournament. An injury to
Krunal gave Karn the chance to step in. Harbhajan, on the other hand, lost his spot after leaking 45 runs in three overs in a league match against the Kings XI Punjab. Karn did only marginally better in that fixture, but was given an extended run.

Karn’s big test came at RCB'S home, in a do-or-die knockout clash. KKR was put in to bat, and its openers were rattled by an incisive spell from fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah. Karn came into the attack in the fifth over, and immediately tasted success. A perfect googly had pinch-hitter Sunil Narine beaten all ends up.

In his next over, the Railways man got the prize scalp of skipper Gautam Gambhir. A full, flighted ball invited the slog-sweep, which landed in the hands of deep mid-wicket. Gambhir, normally a fine player of spin, was sucked into the trap.

Karn then reached into his bag of tricks, and pulled out a terrific flipper to dismiss Colin de Grandhomme. The Kiwi, facing his first ball, was all at sea and fell leg-before. Ishank Jaggi was sent back as well, and KKR was soon bundled out for a paltry 107.

After a job well done, Karn was asked about being preferred over Harbhajan Singh. He spotted the wrong ‘un from a mile away. “That’s not in my hands. The team needs me and I just want to bowl well and win the match for them. That’s more important,” he said.

MI’s opponent in the final, Rising Pune Supergiant, has won all three matches played between the two sides this year. Karn, however, was not worried about the poor record. “We are fully prepared and we will win the final. That's for sure. All that was in the past,” he said.

While the MI bowling attack came through with flying colours, some senseless batting from KKR made its task that much easier. KKR leg-spinner Piyush Chawla sought to take refuge in the cliched “back
your strength” mantra. Asked if his batters let the side down with poor shot selection, Piyush replied, “That totally depends on the batsman. If someone is good at playing something, then they back themselves to do it. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it does not.”

The Uttar Pradesh cricketer did admit that the team total was nowhere near enough, adding, “Getting out for 107 - we need to work hard on our batting now.” KKR, shunted out of the competition, have a full year to sort out this shortcoming.

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