TimesofIndia.com caught up with Dhiraj Malhotra, the Chief Executive Officer of Delhi Capitals, and spoke about WPL 2023, Delhi Capitals women’s maiden title chances this year, IPL 2023, Rishabh Pant‘s absence, Prithvi Shaw‘s form and much more.
How would you rate Delhi Capitals’ title chances in the inaugural Women’s IPL?
Obviously, everybody expects to do well and to win. We have a strong squad with a mix of experienced and talented young players. To be honest, we are focusing on building the Delhi Capitals family, the brand at the moment. It is a great opportunity for the players to understand our franchise and our ethos. We are also getting a chance to know the players as well. We hope to translate those values on the pitch as well.
(Photo credit: Delhi Capitals Twitter)
Can you share with us the names of some of the players who were on Delhi Capitals’ radar in the player auction?
We went for all the players that were in our strategy. I think we got most of them. We played it really smartly. Unfortunately, I was on a flight, but I was online and a lot of people were messaging me saying you guys are not buying anybody. And after losing the signal, I started receiving messages saying what a great buy. We had our strategy in place. We knew who we wanted to go for and I think we got 90-95% of the players that we wanted. We lost out on one or two players because as I have said, the auction is so fluid, and the strategy keeps changing, you have to set a cap for certain players you want, but they go more than that. So, you have to be defensive, and save money for the other players to come. It also depends on the luck of the draw, when a certain player comes out.
Was there any player DC really wanted to buy but missed out on in the auction?
No, not really. We were thinking of going for a lot of players, but the minute the price goes above what we thought of, we just kind of go back to our original strategy.
Will the WPL be a stepping stone for young Indian cricketers to make their way to the National side, like the IPL?
100 percent. As I’ve said again and again, just sharing the dressing room with big players, getting tips from the top coaches, being in the same environment, being in the nets, and facing world-class bowlers, change your whole perception. The way you approach the game changes. There is also a mental aspect. You have to be mentally strong and different adversaries, scenarios will change the mindset. The confidence will go up and I believe it will change cricket in India for sure.
Delhi Capitals started their WPL campaign on a high. Who are the two key players who can be big game changers for Delhi Capitals this season and why?
We have a lot of players. It is very difficult to name one or two. Of course, we have Shafali, Jemimah, Meg, Kapp, Shikha, and Radha, I mean they are all the best in their own way. I don’t think one or two players will make an impact because it is a team sport. I just hope they come as a team and play well as a team.
Will DC miss Rishabh Pant in the IPL 2023? How big will this void be for DC to fill?
100 percent. Not only was he a captain, but he was also our really strong number four, number five wicket-keeper batsman, who controls the game from behind the stumps. There was no bowler who could stop him. We will miss him for sure. But, this is sport. Injuries can happen to anyone. The accident he had was horrible, but we are just really glad that he came out of it strong. We are really grateful that he is on his way to recovery and hopefully should be back fitter and stronger.
(Photo credit: IPL)
Rishabh Pant has been a vital cog for DC. Will he be present to motivate young cricketers during the IPL?
The plan is to get him, for sure. But again, the dugout is totally controlled by the BCCI. Let’s see if they make an exception. We will request him in some of the home games. He’s also in his rehab. So, it also depends on how much it will be available. But for us, the most important thing is to get him back to his complete fitness. Ponting has already said that he would love to have him in the dressing room. We would love to have him in the dugout, but that will depend on whether BCCI allows it or not.
In Pant’s absence, how big a responsibility will david warner have on his shoulders?
(Photo credit: IPL)
Not just David Warner, everyone loves to step up for their team. David is one of the most experienced players we have in our team, but apart from him, we have others too. Everyone will have to play a bigger role. I can name the entire playing 11 and they will all have to step up.
Your take on Prithvi Shaw. Do you think IPL 2023 with DC will be an opportunity to get his lost mojo back and make a return to the Indian side?
If you see him, he performs really well every year. He made us win a couple of games last season, but he has been unfortunate. He fell ill and I think that’s what actually deterred him, not his form or the way he approaches the game. I still feel that this year he will be a game-changer for us. In the powerplays, the way he plays will have a big impact on the way DC goes in the tournament.
(Photo credit: IPL)
DC is looking like a well-balanced side. Do you think Warner can guide DC to their maiden title win this season?
We are waiting to get our camp started, which happens in the middle of this month. We will have a nice get-together, then we will sit with the coaches, and based on the decision we will announce the captain. So for now, let’s not call him a skipper, there are a lot of theories going on. As soon as everybody gets together, we will announce the captain. But see he (Warner) is a senior player, he has been around Australian cricket for a long time. He along with a few other senior players will be our main think tank in the team.