‘This could be DD’s turnaround year’

“Our boys have been performing well at the domestic and international levels this season. If the team plays to its potential, it can surprise everyone this season,” says the Delhi Daredevils CEO, Hemant Dua.

Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan (centre) along with team mentor Rahul Dravid. According to the Daredevils CEO, Hemant Dua, in Zaheer and Rahul, the team has two of the best cricketing minds to guide it in the IPL this season.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

Delhi Daredevils’ performance in the IPL so far has been modest. Despite the presence of an array of international and Indian stars, the team managed to make the semifinals only on two occasions (in the first two seasons). Hemant Dua, the CEO of Delhi Daredevils, spoke to Sportstar about the team’s vision.

Question: What are your impressions on the team’s performances in the Indian Premier League?

Answer: The IPL has been an amazing journey. The introduction of the League has changed the landscape of Indian sports forever. The IPL showed India what it means to bring sports and entertainment together. It brought spectators back to the stadiums in large numbers. The tournament became a reason for a family outing. The success of the IPL as a city based franchise helped launch several other leagues, in kabbadi, football, badminton, wrestling, to name a few. To sum it up, it’s the biggest revolution that has happened in Indian sports.

Have you achieved your goals?

We as a franchise have established ourselves well in the city of Delhi. We have tried our best to integrate ourselves into the society. DD has become a household name in Delhi and beyond. We have launched academies in Delhi NCR and Raipur. We conduct an annual school and corporate tournament to give something back to the society. We are also associated with UNICEF and several other charities. We would, though, like to have a more robust merchandise and licensing programme and would like more fans adorning our colours. We have been taking steps in that direction, and hopefully this would be the turnaround year, as we have learned a lot about fan behaviour in the last decade.

Do you think your team has under-achieved in the IPL?

Yes, on the field, Delhi Daredevils have not been able to live up to the standards that we, as a franchise, and our fans expect. We have had some of the best talents, but we have not been able to go across the finishing line and that has been very frustrating. However, I believe the past has taught us some valuable lessons and we are now stronger than ever. We have a very balanced team, probably like the one we had in 2008. It’s a great mix of youth and experience, and with Rahul and Zaheer, we have two of the best cricketing minds to guide and lead the team in the IPL this season. We are of the belief that this could be our turnaround year.

What are your expectations this season?

We want to go out and give our best. We have a great mix of players (youth and experience). Our boys have been performing well at the domestic and international levels this season. If the team plays to its potential, it can surprise everyone this season.