Bangalore, Sep 25: Yusuf Pathan, one of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) star players, is gearing to launch an assault on bowlers in the next month's Champions League Twenty20 2012. The explosive batsman has felt IPL champions KKR have the wherewithal to complete a double by claiming the CLT20 trophy in South Africa.
Yusuf, who was in Bangalore for the Irani Cup, in an exclusive interview with ThatsCricket, spoke about KKR's chances at CLT20, which begins on October 9 and final is slated for October 28.
The right-hander from Baroda has backed his team to go all the way and heaped praise on captain Gautam Gambhir. The 29-year-old is confident that their mystery spinner Sunil Narine will continue to bamboozle batsmen in CLT20.
Excerpts from the interview
Question: Next month, KKR will head to South Africa for CLT20. How are your preparations for the tournament and do you think KKR can win the trophy?
Yusuf Pathan: Preparations have been good (for me). After this (Irani Cup), I will play in the NKP Salve Challenger Series (in Rajkot from September 29 to October 2). That should be an ideal practice for CLT20. We are going a bit early which will help us acclimatise to conditions in South Africa. Our team is very good. We have a very good chance (to win). The way we played IPL this season, we hope we can repeat that performance and make it a double this year.
Question: This will be the second time KKR are in CLT20. Do you think you have the right team to triumph in South African conditions?
Yusuf: Obviously, we can win. Last time, we played the tournament in India (2011). In the past two years, KKR, as a team, are playing very great cricket. This time the tournament is in South Africa and wickets will be good. The ball comes onto the bat there. We have very good attacking players and pitch conditions will suit them. Our bowlers also have been very good. They have good variations. We definitely have a good chance of winning.
Q: Do you think Sunil Narine will again be the trump card for you in South Africa. Will he be able to shine on South African pitches?
Yusuf: He is a talented bowler. There should not be any major difference of his performance in South Africa when compared to IPL in India. It is not that only fast bowlers will do well in that country (South Africa). Spinners have also been doing well and no doubt (Sunil) Narine will be able to weave his magic again. He too will be a big bowler for us.
Q: Can you tell us how has been the support for you from KKR and having a legend like Wasim Akram as bowling coach. Also how has been the help from owner Shahrukh Khan?
Yusuf: Our team combination is very good and we get along nicely. First of all, Gautam (Gambhir) is a very good captain. He motivates each and every player. We have to commend this quality of his. And having Wasim (Akram) bhai who has taken so many wickets at the international level, is a big motivation for all of us. He makes it a lively atmosphere. He talks about how the game has changed since his days. Shahrukh (Khan) as a owner, too has taught has so many things. He has seen lot of ups and downs in life and hearing from him the struggles which he went through, has helped us. He might not be a cricketer but his struggles as an actor and what he has achieved is really inspiring.