Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid today admitted that missing a batsman of Quinton de Kock's calibre along with seasoned player JP Duminy will affect the balance and composition of the team going into 10th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL).
Duminy has cited personal reasons for pull-out while De Kock has a fractured finger sustained during the Test series against New Zealand at Wellington.
"It is obviously a big blow when you lose big players like JP Duminy and Quinton De Kock. 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. We do have talented players like Sam Billings and hopefully they can go up and perform," Dravid told PTI during an interaction at Delhi Daredevils’ academy ground.
Dravid is now banking on experienced international all-rounders like Corey Anderson of New Zealand and Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews to fill Duminy's void but admitted that De Kock is a bigger loss considering he was built into a player to give the team momentum at the top of the order.
De Kock was Daredevils’ top scorer during last IPL. "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," the chief coach did look dejected.
Dravid is hopeful that the Indian core group of batsmen like Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant will have a good season which will see them atleast making it to the last four since 2012.
Asked how does he expect Pant's second season be after a terrific opening season, Dravid smiled and said, "I hope it is better than last season from our perspective. Well I won't say Rishabh is our only X-factor. We have guys like Karun, Sanju, Shreyas and Tare."
Dravid hopes that they will be able to strategise better giving youngsters more opportunity.
"We will also look to strategise better and give the players 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."
Dardevils were in contention last season for a top four berth till the last match where Royal Challengers Bangalore outplayed them. The former India captain is hopeful that it is a bit better this time around.
"We needed to win that one game 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."
Dravid also feels that Zaheer Khan’s decision to play from IPL to IPL will not hurt the balance of the team as the former India fast bowler is an inspiration for many.
"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. 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," Dravid signed off.