Kolkata: Yusuf Pathan has been a big letdown so far in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but Kolkata Knight Riders are hoping the out-of-form allrounder lives upto his reputation in the knockout stages. "I am sure with the player of his caliber, he would be there for us in the big matches," coach Trevor Bayliss told reporters here on Thursday.
"He has not had much of opportunities. It's difficult in Twenty20 to get going without spending some time in the middle." The coach said that lack of opportunities to some of their batsmen had been the reason for the middle-order's failure. "Obviously, we would like him to score runs when he gets an opportunity. But as I said the lack of opportunities plays a part in not having confidence.
"The middle-order probably had some lack of runs but that's only because of lack of opportunities. We have been scoring runs at the top. We still need to improve in all the departments." The Aussie felt that their star-studded batting line-up has started to express. "Our batting has started to click in the last five or six games. Obviously, Gambhir has done extremely well. McCullum started to score runs.
"We have played some very good cricket ever since we lost the first two games in all the departments. But we know that there is half a dozen tough games to go. Four more before the semis and we must do well." Showering praise on Sunil Narine, Bayliss said the West Indies mystery spinner was extremely difficult to get going in T20 and that bowling has been their main strength.
"One of his strengths is his accuracy which is very similar to Ajantha Mendis during the first few years. It's not only the mystery of his delivery but he is very accurate. That's the same with Sunil Narine. "You are not sure which way it's going to turn and it's pitched on a good length. It's very difficult to hit him for runs. He has bowled extremely well for us at this stage. But the others who are bowling with Narine are exceptionally well also. Our bowling has been our strength at this stage."
With Sachin Tendulkar in the opposition camp in their match against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, Bayliss hoped that the Indian players' inputs would come in handy. "We have a number of Indian players who play against him. I'm sure they would have their thoughts. Obviously it would be a difficult assignment anytime you play Sachin. T20 game evens up the score a little bit though."
The coach hoped that Laxmipathy Balaji would recover from his ligament injury before their match against Mumbai. "We were aiming for the match on May 12. He has been running around... he bowled a few balls. We would assess him later and hope he is available."