Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid has admitted that the team will sorely miss the South African duo of Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy.
De Kock, a wicketkeeper-batsman, was ruled out of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) as a result of a ligament injury he sustained in his right index finger. As for Duminy, who is an all-rounder, he opted out of the tournament due to personal reasons.
Both De Kock and Duminy did well with the bat for the Daredevils last year as they scored 445 and 191 runs at an average of 37.08 and 38.20 respectively.
“It is obviously a big blow when you lose big players like JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock,” Dravid told PTI. “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.”
While Dravid is banking on New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews to step up in place of Duminy, the iconic India batsman admitted that replacing De Kock will be much more difficult given his aggressive style of play at the top of the order.
“We do have talented players like Sam Billings and hopefully they can go up and perform,” he said. “We have all-rounders like Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews, so we hope that these boys can stand up and perform and 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 has high hopes for the group of up and coming Indian players in the side, especially 19-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant.
When asked about how he thinks Pant will fare, Dravid said: “I hope it is better than last season from our perspective. I won’t say Rishabh is our only X-factor. We have guys like Karun, Sanju, Shreyas and [Aditya] Tare.
“We will also look to strategise better and give the [younger] 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.”
The 44-year-old also made it clear that he has no problem with the fact that left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan has decided to take things as they come. Even if the veteran bowler fails to deliver on the pitch, he can still be a useful mentor to the youngsters in the team.
“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,” Dravid said. “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.”
Last season, the Daredevils came up agonisingly short of clinching a top-four berth as they lost to the Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets in their final group stage match.
Given the players they have in their squad, Dravid is hoping the Daredevils have a much better campaign this time around.
“We needed to win that one game and qualify for the knockout stages but unfortunately we did not qualify,” he said. “But this time, we will look to start from where we left last season and try and improve further.”