Centurion:Chennai Super Kings pacer Makhaya Ntini feels despite making a slow start in the second season of the Indian Premier League, the last year's runners-up can still make it to the semi-finals if their batsmen come good, like they did against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday.
"We definitely have a good chance (of reaching the semi-finals), although we didn't have a good start. We've got three good quick bowlers in L Balaji, Manpreet Gony and Albie Morkel. But I think the key is going to be our batsmen. We need to bat big like we did last time around," said the 31-year-old South African.
He has 654 wickets in his kitty from Tests and one-dayers but that doesn't guarantee him a starting place in the Chennai Super Kings team and Ntini is now itching to get back into the thick of IPL action before his home crowd.
"I do miss playing matches. I do watch the guys and think that I can still do a job out there. I still have the feeling that I can make it to the playing XI," the pacer told IPL's official website.
Ntini is a master of bowling at the death and he feels the key is to mix things up and keep the batsman guessing.
"Well, it's changed over the years. In the past, you just had to run up and try and bowl six yorkers. But the game has changed now, with the Powerplays only allowing two players outside the circle.
"You still need a good yorker, but you must mix it up with a slower ball and also a good bouncer. So, one has to keep the batsman guessing with variations," the South African said who spent hours of practice in fine-tuning the art.
"It definitely comes with practice. And a lot of it. Batsmen play different shots now, scores are bigger, and so I have to practice a lot harder. I try and bowl 10 good deliveries at the end of every practice."
Ntini also felt a bowler has to hold his nerve while bowling at the death.
"There are days when you are going to go for runs, and there are days when you are going to concede six runs in an over.
"The guys who stay the calmest out there generally prevail, also those who know when it doesn't come off, that they have tried their best. If I've been hit for six in the previous ball, I just go back and trust myself that I am going to bowl the next ball in the blockhole," he said.
And asked about the batsmen he finds difficult to bowl at, Ntini said, "Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs are very good batsman. I think I am lucky that I have to bowl against Matthew Hayden only at the nets."