T. A. Sekar, the significant engine that runs Daredevils

T. A. Sekar, an understated but integral part of Delhi Daredevils' coaching staff, serves his team well in terms of strategical inputs and creative thinking.

T. A. Sekar believes Zaheer Khan's mental expertise on the field helps Daredevils soften opposition batsmen.   -  R. Ravindran

T. A. Sekar is an integral part of Delhi Daredevils. Only, he is not visible as some of the other team management members. He plays through his players. He cannot play for them but can make them play. His strength lies in providing the technical back up. He can rise from the bed and get into the coaching mood instantly — your head is falling, your stride has shortened, your loading is not correct. Left to him, he won’t sleep because he lives cricket.

Sekar, a fine fast bowler who was quite an underachiever, however, is most adept at spotting a flaw. And, quick in providing remedy too. Barring one season, he has assisted Daredevils in areas ranging from identifying the player to be picked at the auction to giving his inputs on the playing conditions that could influence the drawing up of the playing XI. More often than not, Sekar has been spot on.

Two semifinal slots and two bottom finishes have been Daredevils' contrasting shows in the Indian Premier League. The team suffered when it did not retain some stars like David Warner, AB de Villiers, Ashish Nehra and Amit Mishra. "In the IPL, the team that retains players does well. You have to have the continuity and Daredevils lost the opportunity for some seasons. We improved in 2015 because we retained the core. Our placing would have been better had we not lost some close encounters," says Sekar.

In his opinion, only strong captains can ensure performances from the team. Only former captains make good mentors. Sekar names Stephen Fleming, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne — all captains and all brilliant mentors/coaches.

“When Viru (Sehwag) led, we excelled. In a T20 battle you have to take decisions on the field instantly. To do that you have to know the game very well. Like Zak (Zaheer Khan) and Jam (Rahul Dravid).” He cites the Suresh Raina dismissal in the match against Gujarat Lions at Kotla. “Zak put a backward short leg in place and the bouncer was bowled (by Chris Morris) judiciously. Suresh fell into the trap. It happened because the captain set up the dismissal with his quick thinking.”

Zaheer the difference

A bowler captain is what Sekar advocates in a T20 challenge. “I may be prejudiced because I was a bowler but Zak has made the difference. He was the fielding captain of the Indian team and reads the situation astutely.” Zaheer’s forte is his canny field placements that restrict the opponents and compels them to make mistakes.

In Sekar’s opinion, Morris has made considerable impact on the way Daredevils has approached the tournament this year. “He is good with the new ball and at the death. He allows us the cushion of using a good spinner in Power Play. It helps if a spinner can push an over in the Power Play and then pick up some wickets in the middle overs. Plus the runs that Morris scores come in very handy.”

Daredevils is on the right course. It has men to deliver in every department. It has Zaheer on the field. Dravid off it. And Sekar's omnipresence in the background — bowling coach and planner. As for the team, it has pursued its policy of horses-for-courses well. Daredevils is again playing to its potential with right choices in the playing XI.

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