Chandigarh: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) is treating their 'do-or-die' league encounter against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) as a "virtual final", said their leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia.
KXIP, who were struggling until a week back, brought their campaign back on track with their back-to-back wins against two top teams — Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
From 13 matches, Glenn Maxwell-led KXIP has registered seven wins with 14 points and they play their last league game against RPS, who have 16 points from eight wins out of a total of 13 games which they have played.
As against KXIP's net run rate of +0.296, Supergiant have NRR of -0.083.
When asked what will be his team's approach in Sunday's do-or-die game, 23-year-old Tewatia said, "In a way the upcoming game is going to be finals (sic) for us, we will play our best cricket and hope for the best result," Tewatia told PTI over phone.
"We will approach this game like the way we have been doing so in our last few games. We cannot remain dependent on how the opposition plays, we will have to play our best game," Tewatia said.
The leg spinner played his maiden match of IPL this season four days back against KKR in Mohali, which the KXIP won by 14 runs.
Along side bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Matt Henry and Axar Patel, Tewatia's inclusion in the side has added more teeth to the KXIP bowling.
After posting 167/6, Kings XI restricted KKR to 153/6 in alloted overs, with Tewatia turning out to be the most successful bowler with figures of 4-0-18-2 that included the prized wicket of KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir.
Even in the high-scoring match against MI played in Mumbai on Thursday, in which KXIP had set a target of 231 runs, Tewatia gave away only 17 runs in his two overs claiming the wicket of opposition skipper Rohit Sharma, with the visitors winning by 7 runs in a high-scoring encounter.
When asked that he got to play this season straightaway in a high pressure match against KKR, Tewatia said,"I was waiting for the opportunity. Our dressing room atmosphere is such that players give confidence to each other, especially Virender Sehwag (when one is waiting on the bench).
"When I played my first game, I had a chat with Sehwag which gave me a lot of confidence. There was no pressure as such on me, I just had to express myself with my performance, which I did."
When asked that it is challenging for the bowlers, especially spinners to bowl in T20, Tewatia, who does not hesitate to flight the deliveries up, said,"Leg-spinner is a gamechanger for the team. If he provides his team with early breakthrough, then it changes the momentum in the favour of his team."
"According to me, all leg-spinners look to provide breakthrough to the team which raises the chance of changing the game in your favour. Leg spinners mostly are wicket-taking bowlers. I also try to do the same and provide breakthrough to my team," he said.
Asked if there was any bowler in particular whom he follows, Tewatia said:"I follow all leg-spinners trying to incorporate good things into my bowling which I learn from them. Like, I play for Haryana, where Amit Mishra and Yuzvendra Chahal are also part of the team, I draw inspiration from them. But I don't copy any particular style."
Tewatia also receives guidance from Mohit Sharma.
"Mohit Sharma, who is our key bowler in Kings XI Punjab, also helps me a lot. Mohit also captains the Haryana team in domestic cricket. Here in IPL also, we play for the same team. He knows my strengths and keeps telling me what ball to bowl in a particular situation, which helps," Tewatia said.
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