Kaif lavish in praise of Ishant

As Delhi Capitals picked their ninth win from 14 matches, fielding coach Mohammad Kaif heaped praise on seamer Ishant Sharma. Ishant was spectacular against Rajasthan Royals on Saturday by claiming three wickets in each of his three overs in the power play.

“Ishant is a big factor in our success this year. His IPL career has been full of ups and downs. But his recent form in Test matches in Australia, South Africa and England was tremendous. That’s why we were sure that we wanted Ishant in our team for this season (in the IPL). Now the way he has repaid our trust is just incredible,” Kaif said after Delhi’s five-wicket win over Rajasthan on Saturday.

“He has developed a lot of variations. Ishant Sharma isn’t just a swing bowler any more. He is bowling different types of slower balls, there are the cutters, the slower bouncers – so it just shows that he has many weapons in his armory now.”

Kaif said distinguishing feature for Delhi this season was the way coaches have backed the core group of players. “We have identified a core group of players who are going to win us matches. For the coaching staff, one or two failures doesn’t change the equation as far as the players are concerned. That’s the standout factor for Delhi Capitals this season. We’ve decided that we aren’t going to make many changes this year. Chopping and changing leads to insecurity in the squad. The players cannot express themselves and play with freedom and skill.”

Riyan Parag, who scored 50 even as Rajasthan suffered a batting collapse, admitted it was a tricky surface to bat. “We thought it will be better to bat first on but the ball was stopping quite a bit and it was turning as well.”

The 17-year-old gave a good account of himself in his debut season. He viewed it as a step towards playing in the senior team.

“As it was my first IPL I didn’t think I will be playing as many matches. I came here to just learn as much as I can and just have the experience and go home but now I am really happy I could contribute to my team,” he said.

Reflecting on his journey, Parag, who plays for Assam in the domestic season, said: “The under-19 World Cup was a really high point in my career and now the IPL. The main goal has always been to play for the senior Indian team.

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