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Capitals’ main man

Delhi Capitals’ captain Shreyas Iyer speaks exclusively to Patriot about his team’s phenomenal run in the IPL this season

Delhi Capitals have done the unthinkable this IPL as they currently stand on the points table with 14 points from 11 matches, and on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs. Going by their current form, they are one of the favourites to win the IPL. The captain of the Capitals, Shreyas Iyer, speaks exclusively to Patriot about his team’s turnaround from last year, his personal batting form, and whether he has adjusted to the pressure of being an IPL captain

How happy are you with the Capitals’ performance this season?

I’m extremely happy and satisfied with the way we’ve gone about the season so far. There was of course a bit of a hiccup in between and that loss vs Punjab really hurt us, but we made the best possible comeback, with those three away wins that gave us tremendous confidence. I am extremely proud to lead this side that has gone stronger and stronger with each game.

What do you think is the reason that the team has performed well this season after the disappointing tournament last year?

I don’t think we can pinpoint it to one reason. But overall, there is so much new in this franchise – name, jersey, some players, the management, support staff. All these really created a sense of belief in the side, in my opinion – the belief that we could do much better than the previous seasons. Also, we are not dependent on any one player.

Players have stepped up to the occasion in different matches. As a captain too, the fact that I had to lead the entire season – it helped me prepare myself mentally as well, as opposed to the last season when I was asked to fill in Gautam Gambhir’s shoes midway through the season.

Do you think the auction played an important role this season for your team’s performance so far with addition of players like Ishant Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan?

Yes, of course. I think one of the ideas was to get the people of Delhi to connect with players from their city. And who better could they have than Shikhar Dhawan and even Ishant Sharma. Keemo and Sherfane are very exciting talents, the West Indians are known for their T20 skills, and we’ve seen that in the couple of games that both of them have got to play so far.

What according to you is the biggest strength of this side?

There is no one biggest strength, to be honest. We have one of the most balanced sides in the competition. Off the field too, our think tank is something a lot of players could only dream of. I mean, to be able to constantly pick brains of legends like Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly…. it’s been a learning experience for all of us.

What areas of the team would you like to improve and work upon?

Well, I think one of the biggest gaps we had was that our batting not coming together despite the great line up we had. But that has changed around in the more recent games as well, like in the match against RR where the batting came good.

With the bat, you’ve had a good season this time. What would you like to say about your run of form?

I guess I continued my form from the Syed Mushtaq Ali into the IPL. In some sense, the captaincy has also helped me become a better player. My style of batting has always been aggressive, which suits limited overs cricket. But in T20, in this IPL especially, I’ve also had to play the sheet anchor’s role and bat through the innings. There’s nothing more satisfying than playing a big knock in a winning cause.

Have you adjusted to the extra pressure of being a captain to this side, because last year the pressure seemed to mount on you?

Like I mentioned earlier, captaincy is something I am truly enjoying. Last year and this year’s scenarios are completely different, so it’s not right to compare the two. This year the management has shown the faith in me and named me captain for the full season. I guess I must have done something right in the few matches that I got to captain in last year. Also, I have captained Mumbai Indians  as well in between, so the role is now not so unfamiliar to me.

How do you think your performances will affect your chances of getting into the national side, with the spot at number four still being debated?

Look, at this point I am playing for the Delhi Capitals and that’s my only focus. We are in a great position at the moment, and as a team we want to go a long way. We know it’s very much possible too. So it’s best to not talk about the other debates at this time.

Kagiso Rabada has been absolutely sensational this year. What is it like having probably the world’s best fast bowler among your ranks?

Any captain would be delighted and honoured to have someone like him in their side and I am no different!

Among all the victories this year, which one did you relish the most?

I think there’s more than one. The Superover was a thriller… winning the three games away was also satisfying, specially the one against SRH because frankly we were not in a great position to win that one, yet the bowlers just turned things around in an incredible way.

What are your goals for the remainder of the IPL?

To win the IPL – it’s not just my goal, but that of the Delhi Capitals team.