England batsman Kevin Pietersen was among the early superstars from abroad during the Indian Premier League, which started in 2008 and remains popular today.
He played for five franchises, most notably the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils. During a recent interview with Betway, Pietersen rekindled some of the experience and inspiration drawn from the IPL.
Learning plenty when the IPL first started
“I was fairly outspoken at the start of the IPL because, as a professional cricketer, you didn’t want to be one step behind the pacemakers. The pacemakers, at that stage, was the Indian Premier League.
“You could learn from the greats of the game. You could learn from how they practised, how they spoke, how they approached games, how they were in team meetings, how thorough they were and how meticulous they were in everything they did – like padding up and what they talked about before going out to bat.”
The challenge of obliging expectation
“It came with added responsibilities and extra pressures. The announcer announces you onto the field and normally you are walking out to bat at Lord’s. The announcer would say something like, ‘Good afternoon, everybody. The next batsman for England is number four Kevin Pietersen. Then it’s either boos, cheers or whatever.
“However, in India, you walk into bat there and the music is banging, everyone is shouting and jumping. ‘Walking in at number three for RCB is the world’s most expensive buy at the IPL auction.’ You stand there thinking, ‘Okay, you’re not just walking out to bat at Lord’s, the MCG or Barbados for England. You’re now that iconic player in the IPL.'”
Batting with Virender Sehwag at the Delhi Daredevils
“I just remember batting with the likes of Virender. That was quite an eye-opener. Just the careless, free-spirited cricketer that he is. He would sing while the bowlers were running up to bowl to him. He would just smack the ball over the place. I had some of the most fun experiences on the cricket field with Virender. He was a superstar.”
Forming a relationship with Virat Kohli at the Royal Challengers Bangalore
“Sitting on the team bus with Virat, batting with Virat – I knew that he was destined for greatness. The way he approached the game, the way that he learnt, the questions that he asked – it just showed. He was a chubby, little fellow in 2008, 2009 and 2010. I still take the Mickey out of him for it. But the determination he showed that he wanted to be the best player he could possibly be was always evident.
“We do have an incredible friendship. I think that is because of, maybe, the way I treated him as a youngster – and how I helped him and guided him at the start of his career.”
Captaining several stars at Bangalore
“Being able to have Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher and a young Virat Kohli – just to name a few – was something that, as a foreign player, you just put your hands together, lick your lips and say, ‘Right guys, let’s go out there and do the business.’ There wasn’t much talking you need to do. You just had to strategically position players in certain places and keep all those guys happy.”