‘IPL is closest to World Cup as you get to play against the best,’ Kings XI Punjab pacer Hardus Viljoen

New Delhi: Kings XI Punjab pacer Hardus Viljoen cannot play for South Africa as had accepted the Kolpak deal, but he feels playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) comes closest to fulfilling his dream of playing in the coveted World Cup. The Kolpak deal allows citizens of around 100 nations to play cricket in any EU nation without being considered an overseas player. Hardus had donned the national jersey once in a Test against England and is now a freelance cricketer. Hardus believes IPL is better than many other T20 leagues in the world.

Speaking to IANS, Hardus said the level of competition makes the cash-rich Indian league stand out. “IPL is closest to the World Cup as you get to play against the best. It is an unbelievable experience for players as it adds an international flavour,” he said.

Hardus signed the Kolpak deal with English county Derbyshire before ending it in January 2019. Asked about his move to play in the English County, Hardus said, ”Every boy dreams to play for his country, but this is all about opportunities. You were dropped just after the one Test. You could not get the chance to show your skills and what are you capable of. For me, to take this decision after getting dropped was difficult. But everything happens for a reason. At the end of the day you need security in life and food on your table for your family. Kolpak improved me as a player also.”

Playing for KXIP, Hardus feels (Ravichandran) Ashwin understands his players. “I have played with a lot of captains. I would say Darren Sammy was probably the best captain I played under. Ashwin falls in the same category. He knows what to expect from me and I exactly know what I need to do in different situations and this makes it easier. When your captain believes in you and trusts you, it makes your job easier,” he said.

A well-known name in T20 cricket, the bowler feels the format is tailor-made for batsmen. “In T20 cricket, public wants to see runs and we as bowlers need to restrict the batsmen. I think focusing on the basics makes the job easier,” he said.

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