Kolkata, May 5 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) head coach Jacques Kallis said on Thursday that his side are focused on getting to eight wins which are considered to be the ‘magic number’ to make it to the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs.
Courtesy of their close seven-run win over Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday night, the Knights sit pretty atop the leaderboard with six wins from nine outings.
“Most of our away games are gone. We are sitting pretty. Having last five games at home makes our life a lot easier. But we have to play good cricket. It is nice to have this cushion. Probably need 8 wins to make the last four. So focussing on getting to the playoffs first. Though it sounds clichéd, we are looking to take one game at a time,” Kallis said at the second edition of the Knight Golf event — a charity event of donating proceeds from the sponsorship towards the treatment of underprivileged children in Kolkata.
At one stage during Wednesday’s match, when David Miller and Glenn Maxwell were batting for Punjab, the target of 165 runs looked within grasp. But then Andre Russell came up with an excellent last over, giving away just four runs to seal the victory for the hosts.
“It’s been a tough road. We spent three and a half weeks away from Kolkata. And to put in a performance like we did last night with the guys tired after a long trip, I believe was an exceptional effort,” Kallis said.
“It just showed the fighting spirit of the team. Very proud of the way the guys have played so far and deservedly they have a couple of days off. We will again get together on Saturday and start the hard work again.”
KKR were without the services of their star spinner Sunil Narine as the West Indies bowler has been sidelined due to a finger injury.
“Narine, unfortunately, hurt his bowling finger in the warm-up of the previous game against Bangalore, he wasn’t fit for yesterday’s game. Now we will have to wait and see if he will be available for Sunday,” he said.
Russell picked up figures of 4/20 and his last over was the cherry on the cake. Commenting on the performance Kallis said, “Andre has been a tremendous performer for us in the last couple of years. He has come on leaps and bounds as a cricketer. He is very destructive and he can hit it out of the ground as we see many a time.”
“Yesterday was an excellent performance, needing 12 off the last over in such pressure, he really stood up and made it count. It was a magnificent day for him. In the last 5 overs defending 8 runs an over was a just great effort from the guys.”
For the first time, this season KKR’s co-owner and Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan was present at the Eden Gardens and Kallis said the team is lucky to have him around.
“Even when he is not on the ground, he is always sending messages of support to say he is with us. He is a magnificent supporter. Win or lose he is always sending messages. A lot of us have learnt a lot from him. He is such a humble man even though he has achieved so much. He lifts the guys up when he is on the ground. Lucky to have him around,” the former South African all-rounder said.
Asked about the positives and the negatives of this season so far, Kallis said, “Positives are that we are at the top of the table, we are sitting in a good position. Negatives are we were pretty similar to it last year and then lost the plot. We are aware of that and looking into it so that this time it does not happen.”
“I see a lot of positives. The guys are gelling together well. Guys know their roles. There are little things we are working on, hopefully, we will keep on improving.”