Australian fast bowler speaks out ahead of the much-anticipated first game.
He has quickly become the most fearsome fast bowler in world cricket, and Mitchell Johnson has a message for the rest of the Indian Premier League – he isn’t changing a thing.
The foreboding message came through as Johnson spoke of his health, form and the chances of the Kings XI Punjab for the Indian Premier League’s seventh season.
Johnson has gone from an outcast in the Australian Test side to being the first picked in the past year, leading his country to massive wins over England and South Africa.
In both series’ the chief characteristic of the left-armer has been aggression and plenty of pace for longer spells than would be expected from a bowler capable of plus 150km/h.
“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.”
Johnson is a spectator currently as the ICC Twenty20 World Cup is played, after picking up a toe infection after his side’s series win in South Africa.
However, the 32-year-old said he will be right for the first ball of the IPL season.
“The toe is feeling much better. 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, ball one of the IPL,” Johnson said.
As for his new side’s chances this season, the bowling all-rounder said the Kings XI Punjab squad shapes up on paper to be “very balanced” and said he liked their chances of winning it all.
“Glenn Maxwell is in great form. 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,” he said.
“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.”
Kings XI Punjab start their IPL campaign against the Chennai Super Kings on April 18 at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.