A little bit of “needling” from RCB’s best bowler Mohammad Siraj spurred Phil Salt to play a match winning innings for Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Siraj has been lethal with the new ball this season, but he was at the receiving end on Saturday night when Salt took him to the cleaners in the fifth over of the run chase.
Salt emerged as the undisputed winner following a heated exchange with Siraj, who was seen pointing fingers at the English opener after bowling a bouncer. The 19-run over saw Salt smash couple of sixes and a four and Siraj wasn’t given another spell.
Salt’s breathtaking 87 off 45 in his debut IPL season set up an emphatic win for the hosts. He said his chat with Siraj had a lot to do with the intensity of their away game against RCB at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
“I am very satisfied with the knock. Obviously, there was a little bit of needle. A lot of our pre-match talk was about really taking it to them, which I felt we did really well. There were a few words and a bit of needle. It spurs on most blokes to be honest, certainly myself,” said the destructive England keeper-batter.
It was a conscious decision from Salt to take the attack to Siraj as rattling the opposition’s best bowler sends “calm” to the dressing room.
“If you take on a side’s best bowler and win that particular battle, the message it sends back to the dug-out is one of calm. When that happens, you see guys come out confidently. You saw Marsh hit his second ball for six and Rossouw come out to bat as if he has already faced 30 balls. So that is the method behind it.”
Salt’s sensational effort comprised half a dozen sixes and eight fours with the flat six off Siraj over cover standing out. The 26-year-old represents the fearless approach with which England have played their white ball cricket in the recent years.
His knock was the cleanest form of ball striking that one can see in the modern-game. Salt, who first caught the attention with his exploits in Pakistan last year, says he backs himself to succeed with all out approach more often than not.
He knows there will be days when he will be out caught first ball off a juicy half-volley, like he did against Gujarat Giants, but he will take that.
“I know that if I go out there and put the pressure back on the bowlers and get us off to a good start, it makes it easier for the next batter in to have a good start. That means our batting unit is a lot more likely to win us a game of cricket. It’s pretty simple when you come down to it.
“Obviously you have to live with the highs and the lows. Hitting half-volleys to cover off the first ball, those are things you have to take on the chin sometimes. But with that style of play, when you do score runs, more often than not you have a much better chance of winning your team the game.
“With our all-out approach, you can ride your luck a little bit at times. But when it does come off, you win games for your team. That’s the battle….how often can I repeat this? How many games can I win for my side in the competition?” he explained his mindset.
Delhi batters have under-performed this season but Salt is confident that they can turn it around in the remaining four games. Delhi have also won their last two matches to stay alive in the tournament.
“With the batting group, throwing the first punch and throwing the pressure back onto the bowling side was a major talking point from the batting group. We have been very grateful to the work that the bowling unit has been doing. That talk has given us clarity, which means we can play with freedom.”
Salt is liking his time in the IPL and said he was pretty clear about what he wanted to achieve in his first season.
“It is the first time a lot of people have been seeing me bat. That is an outside distraction. My goal ever since the auction was to come here and win games and challenge myself against the best in the world. Realistically, we know that this is the best T20 league in the world. That’s how I see it,” he added.