Mumbai: Despite their inconsistent performance in the Indian Premier League so far, Chennai Super Kings allrounder Albie Morkel believes that the defending champions can still qualify for the playoffs if they sort out their problem of finishing the close games. "The finishing is not up to the mark. It is not something we are used to. It is just the closing of the games, whether batting or bowling. It is just one bowl at the crucial time. If we get the small basics at the right time, it would make the difference," Morkel told PTI at the sidelines of a promotional event.
Admitting that they have an uphill task in their remaining matches, Morkel said, "It is a massive challenge but we like challenges. I wouldn't be surprised if we made the top four. It is going to be difficult but we are a champion team and we know how to win trophies. We have done it before
and have in situations like this. So I think everyone is going to be up for it."
The winners of the last two editions of the IPL, CSK are currently placed fourth in the table, having won five of their 12 matches they have played so far. The South African allrounder said the three-day rest now will help the players rejuvenate. "The strategy is simple. We need to win four out of four. We have to bounce back and we have to do that because we have four games left and we want to qualify for the semi-finals. Luckily, we have three days off where we can regroup, train again and recover a bit. We have tough back-to-back games but we will be up for it," Morkel insisted.
A key player in the Chennai outfit, Morkel admitted that the team's performance has been lacklustre this season but cautioned the opponents against taking his side lightly. "It is always tough to come into a tournament as favourites. We have played great cricket for the last four seasons and this season has probably been the worst. But we are still in the fourth position at the table, which shows that even though we play bad cricket, we still can compete. In the last four games we need to get some momentum going. All the teams need to be a bit wary of us," he said.
Morkel added that the lady luck has deserted them and they would need it back if they want to make it the hat-trick of titles. "To win a tournament like this, you need a bit of luck. We had all the luck last year and no luck this year. Close games are a fifty-fifty situations. Last year we won 80 per cent of the close games and this year we haven't won even one close game. I think we need the luck element and we will be all right.”
"We have 11 guys who can win a game on a given day. We haven't had enough of those performances where one guy takes the game away from the other side. But let us hope now...it all comes down to the last four games. Someone needs to be in good form."
The 30-year-old said he would like to be consistent with his batting and chip in with a few runs at the death. "My performance has been up and down. I have been bowling well except for yesterday, when Sachin [Tendulkar] took me apart. But that is okay because he is the best batsman in the world and yesterday he batted fantastically well," said Morkel.
"I would like to be a bit consistent with batting, especially in the closing stages of the games. It is difficult to bat when you only face a couple of balls. But there are no excuses. Even if you can score seven off four balls, you make a difference to the game. These small contributions make a big difference at the end," he added.
Morkel also said that the team was lacking aggression that it had displayed in the past. "We sort of went quiet every game. It [aggression] is not just there in most of the games. From a team point of view, I think that is where we lacked a little bit this year."
Asked about playing for the national team again, he said, "It is definitely my aim to be a part of the shorter version set-up. There is a lot of cricket to be played in the winter. I will just take it series by series."
On playing against his brother Morne, he said there was no sibling rivalry but both of them want to win for the team they represent. "Morne is a fantastic bowler. Being brothers, there is no jealousy between us. Once we cross the rope, even though we are brothers, we are enemies on the field. It is going to be like that," he stressed.
Morne, who is a part of the current table-toppers Delhi Daredevils, is one of the leading wicket-takers in the tournament so far, having scalped 19 wickets in 10 matches. "He is bowling really well and has surprised everyone including himself. Morne is a fantastic bowler and I am really happy that it came together in a tournament like this. It will really mean a lot to him," said Albie.