New Delhi: Once labelled a 'pie-chucker' by Kevin Pietersen, beleaguered Yuvraj Singh has found support from the maverick batsman, who says the India left-hander is at the receiving end of "unwarranted criticism" following his scratchy knock in the World T20 final.
Yuvraj's 21-ball 11 sucked the momentum out of India's innings on Sunday and some unruly fans pelted stones at the all-rounder's residence in Chandigarh. India lost the title clash to Sri Lanka by six wickets.
Kevin Pietersen. Pic/ AFP
Standing behind Yuvraj, who is now a friend, Pietersen said: "I haven't read the newspapers here but what I have seen on twitter is that he has got a bit of stick. I think that it was unwarranted and he did not deserve this." Former India players such as Kris Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri had critical of Yuvraj's batting, prompting Pietersen to say that it's "very easy to say things" when one is not an active international cricketer.
"You can't always be good. It's very easy to say things when you stop playing. I see a lot of players talking who don't even play international cricket and wished they were playing, have a lot of things to say. Because criticising is the easiest thing to do," he told PTI during an exclusive interaction.
Set to lead Delhi Daredevils in the upcoming seventh edition of Indian Premier league, Pietersen is happy that he will have to face a selection dilemma when it comes to having his pick between 'Million Dollar Man' Dinesh Karthik and the new South African sensation Quinton de Kock when they kickstart their campaign.
While De Kock has made grand entry into international cricket, Karthik's Rs 12.5 crore bidding makes him slightly favourite to get the nod.
"Of course, it is good to have selection dilemmas as it is quite a good thing to have. I kind of enjoy having selection dilemmas. You have got to hate the fact that you can only choose from only 11 players.
"You should be wanting that your squad of 16 is ready to have a go. Yes, it will be a difficult pick for the first match but we would certainly settle down with time," he said. Life without international cricket is not something that Pietersen would have ideally imagined but then he has been a non-conformist in many ways.
Pietersen loves to be a "realist" and that's the reason he is not feeling stressed ahead of IPL. "I don't see any pressure. In fact, I enjoy pressure. As an individual, all you can do is to give your best. In the next six weeks, I will give my everything to Delhi Daredevils. I am a firm believer in 'what will be will be'. So people can't demand things. People can be happy if things happen and be disappointed when things don't happen. I am a realist in every sense," Pietersen said matter-of-factly.
The batsman is upbeat about his team's chances as he believed that the team has got good depth. "We do have a lot of expectations as we have picked up a player that can do real good things. The strength is good as we have quality Indian players and experienced overseas players. In Gary Kirsten, we have a great coach. I think we have the ability to go all the way. Having said that, I can tell you that there are no guarantees as such," he said.
Talking about DD coach Gary Kirsten, K P said that both are on the same page regarding team's common goal. "I think my interactions with Gary has been very, very good. We kind of sing from similar hymn sheet. Gary is a very relaxed man and a great man manager. I just can't wait to start working with him."
When Pietersen speaks, the reassuring tone makes even worrying factors look like non issues. Delhi's spin bowling is an issue but Pietersen brushed it aside. "We have leg-spinner Rahul Sharma apart from Shahbaz Nadeem. He's played for India and he will be good.''
He also feels that there is no big deal about adaptability as some of the younger Indian players will be playing in UAE for the first time. "If you talk about me, I have done that for 10 years of international cricket playing in different countries in different conditions. As far as the younger players are concerned, it will be a good experience for them."