It was about time that Dhawal Kulkarni brought his ‘A’ game to the field. And what a time he chose. His five for 33 on Monday hastened Services’ closure, paving the way for Mumbai’s entry to the final.
A pleased Kulkarni told DNA after arriving in Mumbai on Monday night that he had some frustrating moments this year when wickets weren’t coming. “I waited for so long this season. We played on flat pitches. I was bowling alright but couldn’t get wickets. I took things positively, though. There were frustrations at times but I didn’t react. My focus on my bowling,” the 24-year-old right-arm medium pacer said.
“Even at Palam, the wicket was pretty slow. We had 120-odd overs to bowl them out and stuck to the basics.”
In tough times, when wickets weren’t coming, Kulkarni found encouragement from the seniors, who made sure he didn’t drop his head. “Seniors boosted my confidence. Abhishek (Nayar) is a very close friend of mine and kept motivating me. Whenever Sachin (Tendulkar) was in the side, he used to tell me that ‘wickets were part and parcel of the game, they will come, you have to be patient and wait for the right time to come’.”
Perhaps, Kulkarni picking more wickets would have helped Mumbai score more victories than the only one they registered against MP in the run up to the final. “Initially it (not winning outright) was a concern. But MP win was crucial. That is how Mumbai plays cricket. That was a big game for us.”
Looking forward to the final, Kulkarni said, “Saurashtra is a good team. We have to play hard cricket to beat them. Personally for me, this five-wicket haul will give me confidence. But I should stay calm, not get overexcited.”