IPL 2017: Unfair to write Daredevils off, says Amit Mishra

Yet to win the tournament, the Daredevils last made it to the playoffs way back in 2012. Since then, the Delhi outfit has finished in the bottom half of the points table in the last four seasons.

Amit Mishra said that Delhi Daredevils cannot be brushed aside despite losing two key players.   -  Facebook

Even as the Delhi Daredevils management has put its faith in a clutch of fast bowlers for the tenth season of the Indian Premier League that began on Wednesday, in terms of bowling records, it's the spinners who have held the aces for various teams across the tournament.

No surprises, therefore, that Amit Mishra remains a leader in his own right within the DD set-up. Understated and effective, Mishra would be leading a bunch of young spinners as DD hopes to shed its underachiever tag this year.

“We have a variety of spinners here in DD and they are all wicket-takers. We are not looking at spinners in the middle as someone only to fill in for four overs but as important wicket taking bowlers. If you take wickets in T20, it puts pressure on batsmen n we are all thinking that way only,” Mishra said talking to the media here and accompanied by the troika of Jayant Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem and new recruit Ashwin Murugan.

While Nadeem has proved his effectiveness alongside Mishra in the previous editions of IPL, Yadav made his mark more with the bat in the Test series against England last year but remains primarily a bowler. Murugan, though, would be keen to improve on the seven wickets he picked up in his debut IPL season with Rising Pune Supergiants last year.

And Mishra is happy being the senior partner to the younger lot. “Last time our performance was good but we lost a couple of close, crucial games. We have done well in the last 2-3 years since I have been with the team. We will miss JP (Duminy) and Quinton (de Kock) but that doesn't mean we are completely out of the reckoning. We still have a lot of good players, we have a very good team and the best thing is that we have gelled very well in the few days we have been together.”

While former India captain Sourav Ganguly recently commented that DD was one of the weaker sides in the competition, Mishra begged to differ.

“I personally feel very motivated whenever someone says something like this. We almost reached the playoffs last year except for losing the last two games. We have a balanced team and will try to do better than 2016,” the Haryana leg-spinner said.

T20 continues to be seen as primarily a batsman's game, the bowling, specially spin, has also evolved with times.

“The biggest challenge is that there are newer players coming in every year, some of whom you have never seen before. You don't know them and it is a challenge to adapt quickly, read their game and bowl to them. Also the game is getting faster every year – there are new shots being played, fielding plans are changing and so to mentally prepare for that and develop new strategies against batsmen is a challenge,” Mishra said.

Asked if the total and partial absence of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja respectively from the IPL would be a chance for them to stake a claim to the national side, both Yadav and Mishra refrained form talking about it. “I wouldn't go that far. Things happen one day at a time. I am not taking this IPL as a chance to stake my claim to the national side but as a chance to have an impact for my team here,” Yadav said, and Mishra concurred.

Mishra said Daredevils cannot be brushed aside despite losing two key players — JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock. While Duminy pulled out of the tournament owing to personal reasons, de Kock was ruled out because of an injury.

“JP Duminy has some personal problems and that’s why he pulled out. When something like that happens, it’s better the player stays with the family. It’s never nice to keep on playing,” Mishra told reporters here.

“De Kock got injured and we can do very little about that. Whenever he’s fit, he’ll walk back in the team. Yes, it’s not ideal but that doesn’t mean you can write us off. The good thing is the guys have gelled well in the last few days and I feel we have a very good team this time. We are working hard. I’m confident we are going to do well,” Mishra said.

Yet to win the tournament, the Daredevils last made it to the playoffs way back in 2012. Since then, the Delhi outfit has finished in the bottom half of the points table in the last four seasons.

“Yes, this is the tenth edition and it would have been nice to have won at least once in the last nine years,” he said.

“But in my last three years, I’ve seen the team improve and do well. When people say that we are a weak team, it motivates me personally and I want to prove them wrong. This time the team we’ve made, there has been a lot of thought put into it, there were several meetings and I’m sure, you’ll see the results,” Mishra said.

“Last year we almost made it to the playoffs. We were just two wins away from that. This year we have a balanced team and we will try to do better than last year.”

Asked about the on-field altercations between Indian and Australian cricketers in the recently-concluded Test series, Mishra said the current Indian team prefers to give it back when provoked.

“Every player tries to be calm and cool on the field and concentrate more on the game. The Indian team never provokes anyone but if somebody fingers us we are not the ones to sit quietly,” he said.

(With inputs from PTI)