Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid has said missing a batsman of Quinton de Kock's calibre as well as the experience of JP Duminy will affect the balance and composition of the team going into tenth edition of the IPL.
"It is obviously a big blow when you lose big players like JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock," Dravid told PTI during an interaction at Delhi Daredevils' academy ground. "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."
Dravid is banking on experienced international allrounders like New Zealand's Corey Anderson and Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews to fill Duminy's void but admitted that de Kock is a bigger loss, considering he was a player who could give the team momentum at the top of the order. He was also Daredevils' top scorer during the last IPL.
"We do have talented players like Sam Billings and hopefully they can go up and perform," he said. "We have allrounders 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."
Dravid is hopeful that the core group of Indian batsmen, including Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant, will have a good season. Asked how he expects Pant's second season to be after an impressive opening season, Dravid said: "I hope it is better than last season from our perspective. I won't say Rishabh is our only X-factor. We have guys like Karun, Sanju, Shreyas and [Aditya] Tare.
"We will also look to strategise better and give the [younger] players a 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."
Dardevils were in contention last season for a top-four berth till the last match, in which Royal Challengers Bangalore outplayed them. Dravid is hopeful things doing 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 team as the former India fast bowler is an inspiration. "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."