IPL 2013 news March 21, 2013

Daredevils coming to terms with Pietersen's loss


Kevin Pietersen's absence from the entire IPL 2013 season is a big loss for Delhi Daredevils, and not just on the field. Pietersen's contract with the Daredevils indicated he would have played 11 of their 16 league matches before leaving for the home series against New Zealand.

"It is very difficult for any team to replace a player of that stature," TA Sekar, the Daredevils' team director TA Sekar, said. "He was encouraging the youngsters, taking a lot of initiatives, talking in team meetings, and was a positive influence. He had a good rapport with Viru and gelled well easily into the team."

Last year, the Daredevils had come close to making the IPL finals in 2012, but lost in a close match in the second qualification game (play-off) against eventual runners-up Chennai Super Kings. Daredevils had topped the points table at the end of the league phase and Pietersen had played a key role in their progress in the eight matches he played - Pietersen scored 305 runs including a century (a victorious 103 against Deccan Chargers), the third-best figures for his team in terms of runs behind his captain Virender Sehwag and narrowly behind the Mahela Jayawardene.

Pietersen's popularity in the IPL is a contrast to his standing in England which plummeted following his stand-off with the ECB and a section of the England team last year. In England, Pietersen continues to be an outsider despite playing for the country, but in India he has been embraced much more easily, perhaps because the Indian fans love a character who performs.

Despite having spent just three weeks with Daredevils last year, Pietersen managed to quickly become a heartthrob. "It was very early in the competition. KP got a hundred and Delhi won the match. And after that every time Pietersen would walk in the whole stadium would chant "KP, KP". I have not seen this happen except with Sachin [Tendulkar] and some of the other big India players like Viru. I certainly can't remember a foreign player getting that kind of response from Indian crowd. He was genuinely loved by the fans, I felt," Amrit Mathur, the former Daredevils' CEO and currently one of the advisors with the franchise, said.

Well groomed and a natural entertainer, Pietersen, Mathur said, was a "hit" with the corporates, too. "The sponsors would want him at promotions or any such event. He speaks well, he is polite, he is very good with corporate heads. So he is exactly what a commercial franchise-based entity requires: somebody who is hot on the field and equally good off the field."

Star power, charisma, mass appeal make the 6'4" Pietersen stand out in the IPL crowd. Among overseas players, Pietersen is up there with Shane Warne as a global brand and is in the top bracket of most expensive players. "He is undeniably a star. A lot of it flows from the way he performs and conducts himself on the field. He is a match-winner. People like Shane Warne and KP are standout performers," Mathur said.

Six matches away from finishing 100 Tests, 32 years old, a father, Pietersen might be a veteran in the cricket business to many, but he continues to display the verve and burning desire of a youth driven to make an impact. He has been in the IPL from the first edition in 2008, but managed just 329 runs in the three years he was with Royal Challengers Bangalore. In 2011, he was bought by the now defunct Deccan Chargers, but injury prevented him from playing that season. In 2012 he was traded to the Daredevils.

Even before the knee injury, the Daredevils management had put in place replacement plans for Pietersen by buying New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder and South Africa allrounder Johan Botha, Sekar conceded they can only be expected to do "60 to 70% of the job Pietersen did". It is hard to find a man-to-man replacement. "KP is very big in international cricket. He can intimidate the opponents in a big way. Psychologically he makes an impact," Sekar said.

According to Mathur, Pietersen remains the right kind of advert for the IPL. "KP is a star not just as a player and performer but also as a personality and a person. He is a great with fans. People come to watch him. He is a confident, extroverted player. The sponsors love him. He is an absolute asset. He is the right package for the IPL."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Allan on March 24, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    So funny that on cricinfo there is an article about how Delhi will miss KP. What about England missing him? Or is IPL more newsworthy than International Test cricket these days?

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 21:49 GMT

    There's mistake in this article. KP did not play first edition of IPL in 2008. He joined in from 2009, which was second edition.

  • akhil on March 22, 2013, 20:42 GMT

    Kevin was star performer for DD in the previous IPL season. His absence will certainly ahve an affect on the teams balance in the batting since they have too many openers rather than a fine middle order batsman. With Ross taylor being traded for Nehra its gonna be more tougher for the team if they don't find a competitive replacement for KP. Also Mahela's attendance for this season is ambiguous. With Sehwag not in good form, this season will be tougher for DD

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    Bad luck for DD. They will nt see him in tht jersey becoz new team will be bought by them again after this season

  • aditya on March 22, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    my replacement for kp wud be george bailey...he's played really well in these sub continent conditions before and cud be a good addition...but delhi can wait for a while before naming replacement...if their current batting is able to do the job and with morkel still injured bowling suffers, then they cud rope in philander...some thinking to do for delhi management...

  • Satish Chandar on March 22, 2013, 9:31 GMT

    What this loss makes is, a explosive batting studded line up without its crown. Though KP did great thing only for some gaems last time, the impact was great.. Especially when the big guns in Mahela and Morkel nursing injuries. Ross and Viru are mentally down after some issues within the national team.. They are not in top form yet.. I guess they will pick Russel and Jeevan both if Mahela looks bleak.. Warner and Irfan need to step up even more to make up for the big guns loss..

  • jayaesh on March 22, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    @Steve Luckhurst , just like IPL means nothing to you guys, similarly Ashes does not mean any thing to us Indians, but English premier league does mean a lot to us and the new season starts in mid August and everybody in UK will be watching the new season of premiership which starts in mid August, for your sake i hope your beloved Ashes is wrapped by mid August,unlike your country we make cricketers feel like stars not some poor cousin of footballers !!! just tell me how many people in your country know who Alistair Cook is but will know every little detail about Wayne Rooney,My mates from football chukle that cricket is a minority sport as it is and still you blokes bicker and are divided on so many issues .... a point to ponder

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    Delhi Daredevils should give chance to Gulam Bodi as opener with either sehwag/warner. he was brilliant in champions league.he should not be wasted.

  • Alok on March 22, 2013, 8:11 GMT

    No Need For Any Replacement. They Already Have So Many Talents Warming The Benches Most Of The Times. My Pick For The Opening Match Will Be. 1) David Warner* 2) Virender Sehwag 3) Mahela Jaywardene* 4) Jesse Ryder* 5) Yohan Botha* 6) Kedar Jadhav 7) Naman Ojha 8) Pawan Negi 9) Irfan Pathan 10) Umesh Yadav 11) Aasish Nehra

  • Dummy4 on March 22, 2013, 7:35 GMT

    because of him they traded taylor to nehra