"Captaincy is all about leading by example," says Karaikudi Kaalai captain Anirudha Srikkanth
Karaikudi Kaalai are on track to make their second consecutive playoff appearance in the Tamil Nadu Premier League and that is thanks in no small part to Anirudha Srikkanth, who has led from the front in TNPL 2018. Despite not getting off to the perfect start (a loss in the super over), Kaalai didn't lose hope and trusted their game.
"There was no turnaround as such," says Srikkanth in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda. "Even in the first game, our attitude and belief was right up there. When it goes to a super over, anyone can have their day and it was their day. I didn't feel bad about it, I kind of knew that we were playing good cricket and just had to continue the same."
So has the Kaalai skipper done anything in particular to maintain the consistency that has made him only the fifth player in the tournament's history to cross 600 runs?
"As far as my approach is concerned, I haven't changed much in my mindset. I am looking to be positive, looking to put the bad balls away and this is the way I play. I just back myself to do it. I haven't done anything extra. I just think that attributes to the mindset," says the 31-year-old.
"When you are the captain, there is obviously an added responsibility. I always believe that the best way to put your foot forward is by performing. Captaincy is all about leading by example and I am trying to do that as much as I can. "
That is something Srikkanth has certainly done this season. Only Shahrukh Khan has scored more runs than the Kaalai skipper this season and in the thrilling last over win over Ruby Trichy Warriors, he just missed out on making it three fifties in a row by nine runs.
Speaking about the win over the Warriors, which saw them cruising at 69/2 chasing 115 before suddenly collapsing to 92/7 and then eventually get over the line with a ball, the 31-year-old admitted that something like was on the cards.
"I kind of knew that this was going to go the last over. It kind of happens in games like this, you are confused whether to go for it or take it till the end and that always gives the other team a chance and that is what happened," he added before saying that as long as you are on the winning side that doesn't matter.
Tirunelveli has been a challenging wicket, not just for the fielders but also for the batsmen. He acknowledged as much when he spoke about the difficulties of playing at the venue.
"It was a very difficult wicket to play on, it didn't matter if you were a fast bowler or a spinner, if you bowl stump to stump on these kinds of wickets, it is going to be very difficult for the batsmen to go after you. Especially with the wind howling on one side of the wicket, one side of the ground is not accessible. So you have to try and get all your runs in the other side of the ground, which is very difficult in a T20 game. You need to be able to access both sides of the ground and that is the difficulty of playing in this ground."
In a season that has seen score boundaries for fun, there was a slight scare as he went off the field in their win over Chepauk Super Gillies but he assured that it was nothing more than "a precautionary measure" and that he is fit and ready to go.
"I am almost 100 %. It is a niggle and any cricketer will actually tell you that they are never 100 % when they actually get into the ground. Everybody will have a niggle here and there.
"I had a niggle in my calf and it was a precautionary measure because if I had gone back into the field, there was a huge chance I might have torn a muscle there properly. So we took a break. We were lucky, we had a five-day break and it healed," he concluded.
Kaalai will certainly be hoping that the injury bug doesn't bite their skipper as their hopes of not just making their second-successive playoffs but also claiming their maiden TNPL triumph rests largely on Srikkanth's shoulders.
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