Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan is one of the oldest cricketers in the Indian Premier League, but he is looking forward for the upcoming 10th season of India’s biggest money-spinner for Delhi Daredevils. DD’s coach Rahul Dravid is excited to have his former India teammate back in the Daredevils outfit.
During an exclusive chat with CricketNext, Dravid said, “Zak was brilliant for us both on and off the field as skipper. He has led really well. And we were really eager to get him this season and even though it can be a challenge since he has not been playing competitive cricket, I am glad and credit to him that he agreed to work on his fitness and stay fit and come back this season.”
He further added, "We have a lot of youngsters in the team and that is where we needed Zaheer as he brings in that knowledge and sense of calm in the dressing room and you need that when you are playing a tournament like the IPL. Also, a lot of the youngsters look up to Zaheer as he is an inspiration."
Daredevils’ mentor has confidence over the youngsters in the team like England batsman Sam Billings and the senior pros like Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews as they have the capability to take the team over the line. He said, "It is obviously a big blow when you lose big players like JP Duminy and Quinton De Kock just going into the tournament. If these things happen before the auction then it is easier because you can plan better. But then this is how it goes and you cannot help it.”
He further elaborated, "Also, we have all-rounders like Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews who have proved themselves at the highest level and will be able to, in some way, replace JP. But yes, Quinton is a big loss because he played so many games for us and was one of our main batsmen. We had built him up for this season, but this is how life is and you cannot do much about it."
Dravid also said that the team is learning from the mistakes of the previous year and he is confident that they will perform better this year. He said "We were in the race till the last group game last season against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Raipur. We needed to win that one and qualify for the knockout stages, but unfortunately, we did not qualify. But this time we will look to start from where we left last season and try and improve further.”
Daredevils’ mentor concluded, "We will also look to strategize better and give the players a good opportunity. In a format like the IPL, it is also important to rest the players and keep them fresh and we will also look at that and give it our best and be successful."
Delhi Daredevils will be up against the runner ups of last year’s IPL Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 8 in their first match.