Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan believes that their team has turned into an experienced squad from being a side filled with promising youngsters.
Addressing reporters on Friday, Zaheer said, “We have always believed in youngsters and the potential they have. In the last season’s squad, we have Karun Nair who has a triple ton in Test level. Shreyas Iyer has made his mark and is part of the Test team. They’re no longer youngsters, they’re seasoned players. That’s the strength of DD this year. The Indian batting lineup is experienced, and the squad is pretty much settled. We are sitting pretty in spite of JP (Duminy) and Quinton (de Kock) not being available.”
He further added, “In the usual thought process we have before the auction, we take into consideration all these factors. We see if players miss out due to international duties and injuries as well. We’re pretty much prepared for the uncertainties we’ll face in the coming season.”
However, Zaheer also said that they will continue to be an unpredictable squad and he is expecting a lot from his young side, he stressed, “I’m sure last year also people used to look at our team and wonder, ‘Okay what’s going to be the combination for this match!’. But the way the T20 format is, and going forward you’ll see this often, every role batsmen play is very flexible. You’ll see at times there are three batsmen ready to go in. That’s the nature of the game. We’ll have different strategies. But these things make Delhi Daredevils interesting! Last season also that was one of our hallmarks – that we had specific strategies for specific teams. So this year also we’ll continue with that.”
Delhi’s bowling unit is pretty capable this year with the likes of Cummins, Rabada and Chris Morris apart from Mohammed Shami and the skipper himself. Despite the fact that Zaheer will be leading them all but he himself hasn’t played competitive cricket since last year’s IPL.
Talking about his match fitness, Zaheer said, “It’s very difficult to not play any match and turn up here and play the whole season. I look at it as a challenge. I have my routines and I stick to them, along with discussions with trainers, physios. The process remains the same. I’m very confident and excited. It’s been a long time but every time I get onto the field that excitement comes back. This is the right dose of cricket for me at this stage of my career. “
Speaking about his team’s chances in the upcoming season of IPL, Zaheer said, “It’s the nature of IPL, momentum is very important. We had some untimely injuries and somewhere in the half of the season, we lost the momentum. In the second half of IPL, pressure usually plays a huge role. If you look at the last season, it was somewhat a different season than the previous eight seasons. If we had finished that last game that we lost by just one more delivery, we would have finished fifth.”
Zaheer concluded by talking about last year’ performance, he said, “Three or four games, we lost by small margins. They could have gone either way, but in terms of the overall season, we were pretty happy. The team that we had last year, not many people gave us a chance to start with. You can expect a lot more from DD this year.”