New Delhi: Chennai Super Kings allrounder Albie Morkel says last-gasp thrillers in the Indian Premier League can be stressful for both players and spectators. Everyone is on tenterhooks in those tense, closing stages.
The fifth edition of the IPL has been the most competitive with 13 last-over finishes, 11 of these getting decided off the last ball. And Morkel himself figured in two match-winning shows. He blasted 28 off seven balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore when CSK needed 43 off the last 12 balls, and hammered 18 off six balls against Rajasthan Royals when his side required an improbable 47 off 24 balls.
For Morkel, whose younger brother Morne plays for Delhi Daredevils, hitting sixes appears to be child's play, but he says it is extremely taxing to go out and throw the bat around in the closing overs. "Batting towards the end of a T20 game can be very stressful when the team is trying to win a match from a difficult situation. You can see the run-rate going up all the time and when it reaches a stage where you have nothing to lose you hit out at everything. Games against RR and RCB were like that. You have no time to think about the outcome, you just have to try and hit boundaries from ball one," Morkel told IANS.
Morkel says staying calm is vital during a tense finish. "It is important to find a way to try and keep your heart rate down. Sometimes it gets the better of you and you get very stiff. I try to do a lot of stretching to relax and also do not look at the scoreboard too often."
Chennai have been the most successful team in IPL's history, but have struggled for consistency this season. Though the side is still very much in the hunt for a place in the playoffs, Morkel admits the season has been tough for the men-in-yellow. "It has been a tough season for the team for various reasons. Personally, I would have liked to be a bit more consistent, though it is a nice feeling to have contributed to the team's victory more than once," said Morkel, who has also taken eight wickets in 12 games. On his team's inconsistent run in IPL 5, Morkel said: "You can't always win, but the lack of consistency in the earlier games has not helped our cause."
There is a clamour by franchises for an increase in the number of overseas players in the playing eleven and it will get shriller with Morkel and his fellow-South African AB de Villiers and West Indian Chris Gayle proving to be the X-factor in their teams. Morkel, however, feels the existing limit on foreigners should stay. "I think four is perfect. We must remember that this is an Indian tournament and for us to take part in it is a great privilege."
And for his place in the South Africa team, the 30-year-old is happy that he has done well in the shorter versions of the game this season after a low-key performance last year, and he wants to firm up his place in the national side. "I have got a lot of cricket going this winter.” After a stint with Somerset in County cricket, he hopes to figure in white ball cricket for South Africa. The target is to do well in the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.
Morkel made a comeback into the ODI squad for the Sri Lanka series in January after being dropped in 2010. He was also a part of the T20 and ODI squad in New Zealand in February-March. The lanky cricketer though has ruefully given up on his Test career after playing a single match in 2009. "In terms of Test cricket, I don't think I will play again as I am not in their [Cricket South Africa] scheme of things. So I just gotta focus on the shorter versions."