New Delhi: New outfit Gujarat Lions have witnessed a dream start to their debut Indian Premier League season and the team's head coach Brad Hodge feels they have plenty of match-winners who can help them continue in the same vein in the remainder of the tournament.
After winning three consecutive games -- against Kings XI Punjab, Rising Pune Supergiants and Mumbai Indians, Gujarat Lions slumped to their only loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The Suresh Raina-led side, however, came back strongly to get the better of a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game, which propelled them to the second spot in the standings with eight points from five games.
Asked about the mantra behind Gujarat Lions consistency so far in the tournament, Hodge said: "We have got a lot of match-winners in our side and if a couple of them fire in any particular game then its going to be awfully hard for oppositions.
"We just need to make sure that consistency keeps going throughout the tournament. But losing is also a part of the tournament. You can't go through a whole tournament expecting to win every game.
"We had a really poor outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But we have put that to bed and I feel across the board we have played really strong cricket with bat and ball and also on the field. So it should hold us in good stead throughout the tournament," the Australian said on the eve of the match against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroze Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Wednesday.
In the past as well, the IPL has witnessed dream starts from teams which later faded away as the tournament progressed. In fact, Hodge, himself, was part of such a team (banned Rajasthan Royals) in the past as a player.
Asked about such a scenario, Hodge said: "I think in this particular side we have so many match-winners. I guess we can take games away from certain teams in a matter of moments. I certainly know that you can run out of gas at the end of the tournament but I hope my knowledge will help to ensure that such a thing doesn't happen."
However, Gujarat Lions have a serious concern going into Wednesday's game after explosive opener Aaron Finch injured his hamstring in the last game and is rendered doubtful.
"Aaron is 50-50 at this stage. He just went off to see a specialist in Mumbai. He will fly back and join the team. We will assess his condition tomorrow.
"It's more of a precautionary thing. He had an injury in Australia and he just felt something which isn't quite right so that's why he came off the field in the last game. He didn't want to have the same injury. But the good news is he is in good shape," Hodge said.
Hodge expects a tough match on Wednesday, especially with Rahul Dravid in the opposition camp as mentor.
"I see Rahul very much as a role model, mentor for myself. We have played together, learnt a lot of things from him and respect everything he does in life. It would be nice to beat him and his team for sure but I am sure he is also thinking the other way as well," Hodge said.
Asked what is the best age for a cricketer to quit the game altogether, Hodge cited the examples of veterans Brad Hogg (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Pravin Tambe, who have impressed with the ball in the ongoing IPL so far.
"It's just a personal choice. If you have fire in the belly and you are consistently playing well, your body is fit and you are up to the rigours of competitive cricket then anything is possible.
"Two guys who stand out for me in this tournament are Brad Hogg and Pravin Tambe. Their performances at this age is outstanding. As long as you have the will and the drive and the character to perform at the highest level and those performances are strong then time is endless," he signed off.