Delhi Daredevils had a dismal show in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, where once again they finished last on the points table with 5 wins from 14 matches. Barring their overall performance, there were some players in the team who made the heads turn with their game.
The 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was undoubtedly the best performer for Delhi with 684 runs from 14 innings while skipper Shreyas Iyer and all-rounder Vijay Shankar also had a decent season with the bat. New Zealand speedster Trent Boult was the stand-out performer with the ball, with 18 scalps in 14 matches.
Speaking to Sportskeeda, Delhi Daredevils’s left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem reflected on his team’s performance, saying: “Very difficult to identify any one particular glitch, but we did discuss this a lot. I believe that our batting and bowling never clicked together, it the batsmen did well, the bowlers had an off day and if it were the bowlers who were in tune, the batsmen did not arrive.”
“To win cricket matches there needs to be a synchronized effort which did not happen on a consistent basis for us this season. We had a solid team on paper, we had match-winners, but we struggled to get in performances as a team, which could be one of the reasons,” he added.
Besides the awful season as a team, Delhi also lost the services of their skipper Gautam Gambhir midway as he stepped down from the job after playing only 6 matches. Moreover, Gambhir didn’t feature in the playing XI of Daredevils in the remaining 8 games.
Talking about Gambhir’s decision to quit as a captain of the team midway, Nadeem said: “Yes, he was a big name coming into the team, well, his IPL record with KKR was top notch, so yes, there were expectations which were pretty normal, to be honest."
“We were pretty chuffed to have him as a leader and he took everyone along right from the first day, we were moving forward. But then he decided to step down from captaincy, it was his personal decision, but despite this, he was always with the team, he kept giving us inputs, kept backing us like a leader. We were not aware that he was quitting, but having said this, his role in the team and in preparing and planning for the all the games remained the same right throughout the season,” he elaborated.
Explaining the chief coach Ricky Ponting’s influence on the team this season, Nadeem said: “It was a great experience to play under him, of course, he has been a great captain for Australia, and his knowledge and grasp of the game stands out. Well, he has two different shades to his personality, when on the ground, he is aggressive and wants to win matches, but off the field, he is relaxed and is quite easy to speak with. You do not really have to make an effort to speak with him, he takes time and discusses your game which has been a great experience for me and I am sure, it has been the same for the entire squad as well.”
Shereyas Iyer was appointed as Delhi’s captain after Gambhir stepped down from the job. When asked if Iyer’s appointment made any difference in the team environment, Nadeem asserted: “For me personally, I did not feel any difference. Like I said, we had Ricky Ponting who kept sending in inputs. We had met before the game, planned a few things and even during the matches, there were a lot of discussions around tactics during the strategic timeout. So, there was no remarkable change as such.”
Nadeem, who has been with the Delhi franchise since 2011, had an underwhelming season with the ball. He managed to scalp only 3 wickets in the 6 matches that he played for the Daredevils.
On being asked why the finger spinners alike him are less effective than wrist spinners in T20 cricket, Shahbaz Nadeem said: “Well, irrespective of which spinner you are, you need to have control over your craft, and you need to find momentum because if you get in the groove early on you will have a good tournament. But then, teams want wrist spinners in their side because they can get the ball to spin both ways, also, all the successful leg spinners have a very good googly."
“For we finger spinners, we need to evolve, we have to look at adding more variations to our repertoire if we want to stand a chance. The batsmen will line us up if we are predictable and hence, we have to figure out things about how and when to befuddle them with our skills. Personally, I am working on developing a chinaman, I did bowl a couple of balls this season too, but am looking to be a more complete bowler by the next season,” he concluded.