David Miller has been a dominant force in Kings XI Punjab's batting prowess in the ongoing Indian Premier League. Batting with 'stylish aggression', the South African is seventh in the list of top-scorers so far. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Miller reveals why pressure means little when performing for a determined IPL team and its passionate team owner Preity Zinta.
Question: This is your fourth season with the Kings XI Punjab. You could have gone to the open auction and got more money. Why did you not do that?
Answer: It was a catch-22 situation. I could have got more money or may be less. I am happy with the retention price that I have got. For the last three years, the Kings have really looked after me. I have enjoyed working with this set of people and it added a lot to the decision I made.
Q: What is that one thing that makes working with Kings XI Punjab satisfying?
A: As a team, we have a great energy. Punjab's young boys are a lot of fun to share the dressing room with. They are really nice people. They are like my own family. I am away from home but I don't feel that. It is truly a home away from home.
Q: You come from Durban in South Africa which has a huge Indian population. One would imagine that you will find a lot of cultural similarities. Does that help?
A: I am used to the whole Indian culture. Durban is like mini-India and so, this place doesn't look alien to me. I fit in quite easily.
Q: Talking about your performance this season, do you think that you have been overshadowed by Glenn Maxwell?
A: I have been overshadowed by Glenn. I have not done as well as I wanted to. I have enjoyed so far and there is a lot more I would like to work on. I am doing that with every game, improving bit by bit. Not taking anything away from Maxwell. He has done great things for the team this season.
Q: So is there a healthy competition within the team?
A: I don't think there is any competition within the team because we got to play together. Every game is very different. In one game you can do very well and in the next, you can fail very badly. As a batsman, I try to start again, start fresh and try to get myself in the game.
Q: What is your philosophy towards batting? Virender Sehwag's is pretty uncomplicated - he says that the ball is there to be hit.
A: My batting philosophy may sound very simple and mundane - it is to watch the ball. One gets so caught up in the whole environment, the crowd, the cameras that it is easy to forget the simplest of things. I concentrate on my breathing and watch the ball.
Q: Fans call you Killer Miller- is it because you intimidate batsmen or your killer looks? What do you think?
A: I remember that in Mohali, there was a big sign which said - "KILLER MILLER." I still want to meet those people who came up with that. I think it is really flattering.
Q: While you enjoy the attention of the fans, does the expectation from the owners often weigh down on you because stakes are high?
A: There is a lot of expectation from the fans, media, owners. I have played cricket in different parts of the world. I have played for Durham and Yorkshire as the only overseas player. They have expectations too. But that is something that one gets used to in England. It is something one has to work on internally when one is in India.
Q: South African batsmen had to often bear the brunt of the team's failure in the ICC tournaments. However, with so many of you performing splendidly for your IPL teams, does that bode well for South African team?
A: International cricket is a whole new ball game. IPL is a lot more pressure. There is more talk about your performance. There is more gaze on you. International cricket is a about getting together, finding the right balance, doing the right thing at the right time. In the World Cup game against India, we played very well but in the end, they played better than us. At times, one has to bite that bullet. That's the beauty of cricket, at times you win and at times you lose but there is no owner you are accountable to .
Q: You are the table topper right now, certainly in the striking distance of the championship. Does it often feel when things are so near yet far? Do doubts and apprehensions appear sometime?
A: We have not really spoken about that as a team. No strategies yet on how we are going to move forward for the championship. We shall do it in the next few days. For me it is a great opportunity. I do not think we have been in this position before. I don't think that there is anything to be scared of. We have played hard to earn the place. We should go out and play with more freedom.
Q: What is that one special thing that has held you guys together this season?
A: In every game, someone or the other has done really well, whether it is a batsman or a bowler or both at the same time. Someone has done something special when we needed it. At times Saha has stepped onto the plate. That is what you need in T20 cricket.
Q: Talking about your owner Preity Zinta, what kind of contribution has she had in your fantastic run this season?
A: She is a great support. She has been there in every game. She has been there right from the auction. She has got great energy and passion as you can see. As a team member you can only ask for support and confidence from your owner. Preity always gives us that.