Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
“I am feeling very good and I will be ready to go from ball one of the IPL”
After leaving England in a state of disarray during the recent Ashes series and a trail of destruction in South Africa, Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson has vowed to be even more lethal during the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL).
Johnson, who is currently out of action with a toe infection, was bought by the Kings XI Punjab for Rs 6.5 crore ($1.4 million).
“Definitely it is a psychological advantage based on the past six months of my performances,” Johnson said. “(I bowled) A lot of short-pitched bowling which was more effective on our bouncier wickets (in Australia and South Africa). But even on the last ODI series in India I definitely tried to bowl short-pitched deliveries.
“I have often said I really do enjoy the challenges of Indian wickets. I find that you can still get good bounce and pace out of them and I noticed that during the last IPL last year. It wasn’t all just for the batsmen. I’m really excited playing on those wickets in India again and try and be intimidating as I have been in the last six months or so.”
Even though the toe infection forced him to miss the ongoing World Twenty20, Johnson described his break as a blessing in disguise.
“The toe is feeling much better,” he said. “I had an infection that came from my toe, went into my foot and up my leg. But I got on top of it very quickly with some antibiotics. I have started training this week. I am feeling very good and I will be ready to go from ball one of the IPL.
“I might be as well prepared as I am going to be fit. I am going to be fresher. I am going to very keen because it is a new club and I would like to impress. Whatever are the responsibilities are there I am really excited about them. I know how to perform at my best and I am feeling at the top of my game so I just want to keep getting better as a player and try and bring some of the young guys with me and try and improve their game.”
After taking 24 wickets to help the Mumbai Indians win their first IPL title last year, Johnson admitted that he was a little disappointed not to have been retained by the franchise.
“(It was) a new auction,” he said. “A ot of players were in the auction pool this year and that made it very difficult for everyone. It would have been exciting to obviously go back there (Mumbai), but I am very happy with Kings XI Punjab.
“My manager talked to Adam Gilchrist, who said he really enjoyed a very special time there and it was a family-oriented atmosphere. I am not upset. I am not angry. I am not disappointed. This is the way it goes. I am now excited to play for the Kings and lead by example.”
Johnson also conceded that the Kings XI Punjab are a “very well balanced side”.
“Glenn Maxwell is in great form,” he said. “He is a very exciting player. He showed the other night against Pakistan during the WT20 what he can do. Having him in the side is a huge bonus. Then we have Shaun Marsh, with whom I have played at Western Australia, an outstanding T20 player. Dave Miller can hit a long ball and that is what it is all about: hitting boundaries and the balls over the fence and getting crowds excited. Then obviously we have the experience of Sehwag, a batsman a lot of bowlers in the world struggle to bowl against. Rishi Dhawan is a good allrounder who was also with me to Mumbai, so it is a very good side.”
Even though he has become one of the most feared bowlers almost overnight, Johnson believes that he must work on his batting if he is to strike more fear into the hearts of his opponents.
“My batting has probably been lacking in the shorter forms because coming in late in the game it is quite hard to hit from ball one,” he said. “It is about getting my eye in as quickly as possible. It is an important role batting lower order as the extra bit of runs are definitely handy in this form of the game. I always work on my batting and hopefully I can be fine with my bat as well.”