After a tough first season in charge of the Delhi Capitals, Shreyas Iyer says you have to take one venue at a time, one opposition at a time — that’s the key in a fast-paced and dynamic tournament like the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“What worked in one match may not work in the next, so you’ve to keep an open mind and be ready for changes always,” the captain said in an interview.
What are your impressions on your career in the IPL thus far?
The IPL has been a big stepping stone for me. The Delhi franchise showed its faith in me in 2015, when the team was known as Delhi Daredevils, and continued to keep that faith, making me the captain of the side which is now known as Delhi Capitals.
From my first season, when I ended as an emerging player, to now leading a side which did phenomenally well last season, it’s been quite a journey, and I’m grateful for everything. There’s no doubt it has helped in paving my way to the Indian team as well. I can’t wait for the 2020 season now.
What does the elevation to captaincy mean to you?
Captaincy means a lot more responsibility, challenges and the ability to adapt according to situations during the course of a match — these are situations I thrive in. In fact, even before I was named full-time captain for Delhi Capitals, I had led the Mumbai and India A sides. It made me think about the game much more.
When I was captaining DC last year, I was blessed to have the likes of Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly in the ranks (as mentors), whose brains I could always pick for ideas. Even on the field there were seniors like Shikhar (Dhawan) bhai who were always available to discuss anything.
On the field I had full freedom and I thoroughly enjoyed that. It helped me to become a better batsman as well, because captaincy makes you think a lot. You’ve got to be aware and alert every second and adapt to changing situations in a match, very fast.
What are the batting challenges you expect to encounter?
Well, the pitch in Delhi was a tough one last season, but we got around to training enough on it and adjusting accordingly. One of our biggest strengths is that we have a solid Indian core, and the top of the batting is dominated by Indians. And that will be crucial for us irrespective of where we’re playing. You’ve got to take one venue at a time, one opposition at a time — that’s the key in a fast-paced and dynamic tournament like the IPL. What worked in one match may not work in the next, so you’ve got to keep an open mind and be ready for changes always.
What are the strengths of your team?
Like I said, one of our biggest strengths would have to be our Indian core. And the way we have picked players at this auction, there are possibilities of working out every kind of permutation and combination. Even among the foreigners, for instance, you could play around with their roles and positions. Someone like a (Marcus) Stoinis is coming off superb form in the Big Bash and I truly hope it continues in the IPL, and even (Shimron) Hetmyer who is also a potential match winner. It was incredible for us to make it to the playoffs last season, and I believe we’re in for an amazing season this time, too.
Even though we are not playing in India, there’s enough variety in the squad. Our bowling has been strengthened, no doubt, with the addition of Anrich Nortje, who joins our other two fast bowlers (Kagiso) Rabada and Ishant (Sharma). The thing that worked for us in 2019 was how there were different match winners for different games, and we were not dependent on one player only to win. I believe that’s going to be the key this year too.
How exciting is it to to play after such a long layoff, and how challenging will the tournament this year be, given the various protocols?
I’m extremely excited. After months of quarantine at home, we were quarantined in our hotel rooms as well for a week in Dubai. But the feeling when we finally got to go out, and see the ground — it was amazing. I was so excited that I was ready an hour early on the first day. It was actually quite nostalgic when we were all on the bus and on our way to the ground for training. No doubt, this will be a different and challenging assignment given the circumstances under which the tournament is happening. But as a captain, these challenges excite me. It’s been a great couple of days at training already, The vibe is so positive, and the guys are raring to go.
You have some great experience with new additions like R. Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane in your side.
They add tremendous depth to our side and give Ricky and me plenty of options to work with depending on the situation. With the amount of knowledge and experience they bring to the table, I can always reach out to them at any point for advice.