Mumbai: Mumbai Indians batsman Lendl Simmons hailed Indian Premier League (IPL) as the best Twenty20 tournament in the world, adding that the cash-rich league is the best platform where a cricketer can prove one’s worth.
“IPL is the biggest and best Twenty20 tournament. And there’s no better way out than proving yourself and proving one’s worth at the IPL,” Simmons told IANS at a Kingfisher Bowl Out event here on Monday.
On Sunday, against his team Mumbai, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) AB de Villiers struck an unbeaten 133 off just 59 balls, making a mockery of Mumbai’s bowling attack.
Lendl Simmons. Pic/ PTI
Simmons praised De Villiers' effort, saying "he is a world class player who is someone out of this world".
“AB is a world class player. We see that at different levels, in Test cricket and One-Day-International (ODI) cricket. It doesn't matter what format he plays, he is still a world class player. He is someone out of this world. When he finishes with the game of cricket, everyone will remember him,” the West Indian said.
Simmons has been consistent with the bat this IPL season, scoring 345 runs from nine games at an average of 43, which include four half-centuries, highlight being 71 off 56 balls against Kings XI Punjab.
In the 2014 IPL too he was a regular contributor with the bat, scoring 394 runs from eight games, smashing a match-winning century off 61 balls against Kings XI Punjab.
The right-handed opening batsman, besides his individual runs, has also been part of some healthy opening partnerships with Parthiv Patel, which has helped the team put on big runs on the board.
Speaking on his good run, Simmons said, “It’s just about getting good start to my innings. I do what it is required off me. I want to get my team off to a good start and in a good position. So far things are going good for me and I hope to deliver for Mumbai back again in the upcoming matches.”
Known to be an excellent fielder and an occasional wicket-keeper, Simmons came into limelight when he represented the West Indies in the 2002 and 2004 Under-19 World Cups. He received his Test cap against England in March 2009, playing eight matches, 68 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and 34 T20 Internationals.
The 30-year-old has taken some spectacular catches in the ongoing IPL, most recently against Delhi Daredevils when he pulled off a one-handed stunner at backward point to dismiss Yuvraj Singh.
Simmons, who threw himself into the air to grab the ball, not only stunned Yuvraj but also the spectators present at the Wankhede Stadium.
"It’s about getting the ball into the hands properly and holding onto it. You drop some easy ones and catch some hard ones, that’s how the game goes," he said.
The Trinidad-born cricketer said he learned a lot by watching legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid play in Indian conditions, and added he tries to emulate some of their skills in the IPL.
"I have watched Tendulkar and Dravid play in the previous IPL. I have learned a lot and try to emulate their skills at the start of an innings. Like when you play in the first six overs it’s about hitting the ball in the gaps and get valuable runs," he said.
Mumbai, after Sunday's loss to RCB, dropped to the sixth position and are in a must-win situation in their remaining two matches against Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad to qualify for play-offs.
“We can call it two finals for us. We have to do our basics right. I will look to do my part for the team that is to get a good start and get them into a good position. At the top we need a good foundation and force the score to a position which will be comparative to win,” Simmons said.
Simmons said former West Indies coach Stuart Williams is someone he looks up to when it comes to aggressive hitting and shot selection as an opener.
“My role model has always been Stuart Williams who was West Indies coach. Phil Simmons took over now. But I have looked upon Stuart’s aggressive way of opening the batting and his shots selection,” he said.
Caribbean players have performed well so far in the tournament. Talking about his international teammates success here, Simmons said, “I think we love the challenge, being in the world stage. We always look to perform on the best of our ability.”