Kulkarni: Finch’s innings among the best I’ve seen

Dhawal Kulkarni, the Gujarat Lions seamer, believes the unbeaten half-century from Aaron Finch that won their side a tight contest was among the best innings he had seen.

Dhawal Kulkarni took 2 for 19 in his four overs.   -  PTI

Gujarat Lions seamer Dhawal Kulkarni has praised teammate Aaron Finch’s knock that significantly contributed to their team’s thrilling victory over Mumbai Indians. Finch overcame a hamstring injury to score an unbeaten half-century gave the Lions its third victory of the season.

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“We (the team) just hoped he continued playing and that’s what he did, he showed great character and helped us win the game and he (Finch) is ok now,” Kulkarni said.

Kulkarni believed Finch’s innings was among the best he has seen. “Yeah, he (Finch) played throughout and [it was] one of the best innings I have ever witnessed and he helped us win, batted from the start and made sure we end up on the other side, winning...,” the 27-year-old pacer told reporters at the post-match conference.

Needing 11 to win off the final six deliveries of the match, Kulkarni hit a boundary in the third ball of the over, a hit that made the target easier to achieve. “My game plan was to just give him (Aaron Finch) strike, but anything pitched up I had to slog and luckily (Jasprit) Bumrah bowled a half volley and I could hit a boundary.”

Kulkarni bowled effectively to take 2 for 19 in his four overs, a performance he doesn’t rate as one of his best. “I had performances like these before also, but I wouldn't rate this as good as I have had in the past. It was my first game for Gujarat Lions, a proud moment for me and playing at the home ground its a special feeling always, I want to play here, want to do well on my home ground.”

'Extra energy'

Kulkarni admitted to the conception of ‘extra energy’ when pitted against Rohit Sharma, his teammate from his Ranji Trophy side Mumbai. “I feel I am always there for that battle, when you see your teammate face you, its gives me that extra energy to bowl at him and he is such a great player and to take his wicket, it was great moment for me.

“I have always looked up to him and he has always helped me in the Bombay (Mumbai) dressing room, so on the field we were playing against each other so there was no friendship we just wanted to go against each other,” he added.

Mumbai Indians gave away a few extra runs towards the death. Kulkarni conceded to his bowling unit having bowled a few loose deliveries. “No nothing went wrong, it happens in this format, you tend to start well and later on batsman tend to slog so we bowled well actually, just in patches there were quite many loose balls.”

The dew later on in the innings, he said, got the ball to skid on to the bat. “Later on there was quite a bit of dew, so the ball was skidding on to the bat, initially with the new ball there was help in the wicket, so you had to just stick to your line and length,” he added.

Flexible captain

Kulkarni praised the leadership of Raina. “He (Raina) is very good and a matured cricketer and has a lot of experience, he is leading pretty well at the moment and is doing a lot of good changes on and off the field and he very much supports the bowlers. It's not that he makes his own plans, he is pretty flexible as a captain,” he said.

The team’s training camp ahead of the tournament had helped the side get along well, he said. “I felt the team has gelled pretty well, we had a camp for a week or so before the IPL, so guys had a chance to get to know each other, that’s how we gelled well and I see a lot of unity in the team and winning the first game was important for us and that’s what we did the rest followed.”

Reserving a spot in the playing XI was not easy, admitted Kulkarni, elaborating on what he tries to do to sharpen his skills and work on fitness to get a game. “You have to keep bowling well in the nets, if you want to get into the eleven, there are so many international players sharing the dressing room and there is a lot of experience in them to make a place in the 11, you have to really work hard in the nets, you have to keep bowling hard, keep working on your fitness and that’s how you get into the 11," he said.