Sai Kishore's Dew-Defying Spin Rescues Gujarat Titans

Sai Kishore’s Dew-Defying Spin Rescues Gujarat Titans

As a spinner, dew can be a formidable adversary. However, when the opposition is cruising at 107 for 2, needing just 62 runs off 48 deliveries, the challenges escalate exponentially.

R Sai Kishore, having bowled three wicketless overs for 19 runs, faced this daunting task. Rohit Sharma, set on 43, threatened to extinguish the Gujarat Titans’ hopes. But it was at this critical juncture that Sai Kishore rose to the occasion.

“I anticipated dew to play a significant role,” he later remarked. “The ball was damp, but surprisingly, it still held on the wicket. Usually, it slides on, but I was astonished by the grip I was getting. So, I adjusted my length and varied my pace, slowing down the ball in the air.”

Sai Kishore, who had not featured for the Titans throughout the previous season due to team composition, had made only five sporadic appearances in 2022. He recognized the need to produce something extraordinary to keep the Titans alive. By shortening his length and inducing the ball to dip, he achieved just that.

Rohit Sharma fell victim to a sweep shot, trapped plumb in front. Sai Kishore’s intervention had brought the game back to an even footing. His figures of 1 for 24 played a pivotal role in Mumbai’s slowdown, particularly in the latter stages of their chase. The Titans varied their lengths and bowled into the pitch to deny the batters.

“Given the two-paced nature of the wicket, we opted to bowl into the wicket more frequently, trusting our length rather than aiming for yorkers,” Sai Kishore explained. “This strategy yielded several wickets. It was aggressive bowling, even though the situation may have suggested otherwise.”

At the Titans, Sai Kishore has adapted to the role of second spinner behind Rashid Khan. In the TNPL and for Tamil Nadu, he is often deployed as a trump card in the Powerplay. This change of role can be challenging, but for someone eager for opportunities, it was the opening he needed.

“In other teams, I typically play the lead role. To assume the second role makes it even more exciting,” Sai Kishore said. “Most batters will play off Rashid and target me. That makes the challenge more stimulating.”

“The coordination with Rashid is excellent; we discuss the game thoroughly. One of the strengths of this team is the unity among the players. Jayant Yadav, the offspinner, would often come in and offer advice. The communication is always open, which is fantastic.”

Sai Kishore believed the Titans were at least 10 runs short of their desired total. The plan was to stay in the game as long as possible and seize key moments, as they did in the death overs with Mohit Sharma and Rashid building on Sai Kishore’s foundation.

“We felt we were 10 runs short, but the essence of this team and its management over the past two years is the emphasis on competition. Regardless of the outcome, we take pride in our performance. We competed exceptionally well. That was the message conveyed by our head coach, Ashish Nehra.”

“All credit to the culture he has established over the last two years. Players are not solely focused on the result; they prioritize competition and staying in the game.”

Sai Kishore is coming off a remarkable Ranji Trophy season, where he emerged as the highest wicket-taker. He also made his mark as a captain, supporting young players who flourished due to clear role definitions.

At the Titans, Sai Kishore relishes every opportunity to play, prepared to undertake the tough tasks without fear of consequences. “When you bowl four overs consecutively, it’s like a one-day game; you can find your rhythm more easily.”

“With the Impact Player rule, we’re playing six bowlers. I’m getting the role where I’m bowling four overs on the trot in the middle. I’m open to bowling one-over spells. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy or TNPL, that’s how I use my overs, but with the quality of bowlers we have, I’m getting to bowl four overs, which I’m enjoying.”

TN Coach's Criticism of Captain Sparks Controversy

TN Coach’s Criticism of Captain Sparks Controversy

Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy semifinal defeat against Mumbai has sparked a controversy after coach Sulakshan Kulkarni publicly criticized captain R Sai Kishore’s decision to bat first. Kulkarni’s comments have drawn the ire of former state stars, who believe the issue should have been handled internally.

Kulkarni claimed that the entire dressing room was shocked by Kishore’s last-minute change of plan. He had previously instructed Kishore to bowl first if they won the toss, but the captain opted to bat instead.

“If his inner voice or instinct told him that we have to bat first, there was no point in having me,” Kulkarni said. “I am an experienced coach and a Ranji Trophy-winning coach. We were playing against Mumbai in Mumbai, a place I know everything about, but he did not listen.”

Kishore has not responded to Kulkarni’s allegations. However, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) has expressed its displeasure with the coach’s outburst.

“What he (Kulkarni) did was wrong,” said a TNCA official. “We got five outright wins with Sai Kishore’s good decision-making. You cannot blame someone for just one decision. That is not how a coach should work. In my view, Kulkarni has committed a mistake.”

Former India captain K Srikkanth condemned Kulkarni’s actions on his YouTube channel. “This is absolutely not fair,” he said. “Dear TNCA, please do not recruit such coaches from outside (the state).”

Hemang Badani, another former Tamil Nadu player, wrote on social media: “Good coaches do not do that.”

Dinesh Karthik, who captained Tamil Nadu in the past, expressed his disappointment on Twitter. “This is so wrong. This is so disappointing from the coach,” he said.

The controversy has cast a shadow over Tamil Nadu’s impressive Ranji Trophy campaign. The team had won five matches in a row before suffering the innings defeat against Mumbai.

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