Sehwag: 'Best Kings XI team in 10 years'

IPL has changed the way the game is played, says Virender Sehwag.

Sehwag: "We have the stuff to win the IPL."   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Ahead of the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), former India opener Virender Sehwag shares his views with Sportstar on his role as the mentor/coach of Kings XI Punjab.

Excerpts:

Q: How much has Indian cricket benefitted from the IPL?

A: Indian cricket has progressed and gained a lot from the IPL. It has given some very good players to the Indian team. The youngsters get noticed because of their performance in the IPL. It pushes their case along with their good showing in domestic cricket. Some of the players have now earned their spots in all formats after excelling in IPL.

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Q: Did you imagine IPL would become such a big stage?

A: We knew it was going to be a big platform but honestly never thought it would grow into what it has become today. The success of IPL was assured because cricket has a massive following in India and also overseas. We knew it would create a fan following. But who would have thought it will grow into a sporting property which can fetch Rs. 16000 crore for broadcasting rights.

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Q: How much has IPL impacted cricketers?

A: Personally it has changed the mindset of the cricketers. It has changed how the game is played. IPL has changed the approach of the players to the game. See, how it has set the fast pace of scoring runs in all formats. There are more results in Test cricket because batsmen score quickly. Even 350 is not a safe target in one-day cricket now because of the IPL experience.

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Q: How was your experience as a player?

A: I have enjoyed my experience as a player for eight years. It was thrilling, wining matches for the franchises. I was satisfied with my playing career in IPL. Now my role is to mentor the team, guide the players, boost their morale.

Q: What do you tell the players?

A: I don’t put pressure on them because that’s the way I played my cricket. There is no point in creating pressure. I played freely. I want my players to play freely. Give your best. Don’t invite stress by thinking too much about the result. I insist on good atmosphere in the dressing room.

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Q: How mature are the players?

A: They know their game. I give them the feeedom to chase their game. I concentrate on ensuring they don’t get bored. It’s not easy to keep doing the same things day in [and] day out. Practice, match, flight and again practice, match, flight. It can get boring. I drag them away from the boring schedules. I want them to enjoy their cricket and travel. I have allowed them to bring their families too. You have to give them their space.

Q: How will this IPL be different?

A: Innovations are always there. I think we can have a new champion this time. Most teams are equal now in terms of strength and balance. Most teams have become competitive. Teams have begun to understand and read their opponents better now. There is so much of scrutiny and analysis. Tactics are analysed threadbare.

Q: Too much of scrutiny?

A: The data is there for you to analyse the strength and weaknesses of the players. It works both ways. They can plan. I can plan. And change the plan. Key lies in executing the plans. It is to plan but very tough to execute. We have some exciting bowling plans in place and would like to execute them.

Q: What can the fans expect from your team?

A: Fans can expect the world from us because this is the best Kings XI team in the last ten years. Believe me we have some fantastic domestic players (Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, K. L. Rahul, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma). And we have (Chris) Gayle. We have the stuff to win the IPL.