IPL teams not at a disadvantage - Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir, Delhi Daredevils' newly appointed captain, has disagreed with the view that IPL sides are at a disadvantage in the Champions League Twenty20 because, unlike other teams who play as a group throughout the year, their players get together only for franchise tournaments.
Ray Jennings, the Royal Challengers Bangalore coach, had predicted a tough road for the three IPL teams and stressed about the quality of the opposition, which he felt would be different. While it was a challenge to work on team strategies in such a short period, Gambhir was confident because many of his senior players had been playing international cricket. "Most of our international players have been playing one-day cricket and are in very good nick and that can be used to our advantage," he said.
Despite the absence of AB de Villiers, who withdrew due to a back injury, and concerns over the availability of Paul Collingwood, who suffered a buttock strain in the ICC Champions Trophy, Delhi still have a formidable top order in Virender Sehwag, Tillkaratne Dilshan and Gambhir.
David Saker, Delhi's coach, was confident about his side's prospects. "Losing AB is a big loss but we probably have got the best two or three batters in any form of the game - Viru [Sehwag], GG [Gambhir]and Dilshan," Saker said. He said the fielding was the only department where Delhi would miss the agility of de Villiers.
Delhi open their campaign against Victoria on October 9 and it could be an interesting duel between the two coaches: Greg Shipperd is Delhi's head coach in the IPL and Saker, Victoria's bowling coach, is his deputy. But Shipperd will guide Victoria's fortunes in the Champions League while Saker temporarily fills in his Delhi role. Asked if Shipperd might pass on some valuable inputs to Victoria, Gambhir said the possibility did not bother him. "It is going to be even as we've got David Saker, who will pass on some information about Victoria players. So it is going to be good contest when you have two coaches who know each and every thing about every player."
Saker said the injury concerns to some of the international players had only opened doors for the Indian domestic players to rise to the challenge and get noticed. "Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia have been waiting for an opportunity and now with these injuries there is a chance that they will come in and play a major role," Saker said.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo