The underachiever of earlier IPL seasons, Delhi Daredevils are witnessing a complete turnaround this year and young batsman Sanju Samson credits mentor Rahul Dravid for the change in fortunes of the side.
Barring one bad day in office, the Daredevils have enjoyed a near-perfect campaign so far in the tournament. After the loss to Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in their tournament-opener, the Daredevils bounced back strongly.
They comfortably beat Kings XI Punjab, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians in their next three games to be placed third in the eight-team standings with six points from four games.
“Obviously, it’s a very young and fresh team. We have lots of youngsters in the team so a mentor like Rahul sir motivates us to perform. It’s good to see that we all are doing well under him,” Samson said on the eve of their match against Gujarat Lions.
In the last match against defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Feroze Shah Kotla here, it was young Samson (60) and JP Duminy (49 not out) who rose to the occasion to take the Daredevils to a challenging 164 for four, a total which they defended by 10 runs.
“I have been playing IPL for the last three years and I think I am getting better as a cricketer every year. Mostly I take my learning and experience from Rahul sir. It’s all about learning. It’s all about what your team needs from you. If they send me down the order I have to finish the games and if they send me up the order I will have to build the innings and set the stage for my team,” the young cricketer from Kerala said about his own role in the Daredevils outfit.
But come Wednesday it won’t be a cakewalk for the Daredevils since in Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions they face a formidable opponent which has impressed all and sundry in their debut season so far.
Asked about Wednesday’s rival, Samson said, “Every team is tough to play in this tournament. Gujarat has been doing well and we will have to respect them. But nothing changes in the preparation. Planning wise we do talk about our opponents and set clear plans.”
Unlike Daredevils, Gujarat Lions have a destructive opening line-up in Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum, but Samson is unperturbed by strong batting department of the visitors.
“Yeah they are doing well but we can’t judge who is going to do well the next day. So we will have to respect everyone who is coming to bat. We have plans for everyone and I hope it goes well tomorrow,” he said.
In this IPL most of wins have been registered while chasing but Samson said daredevils have a strong bowling line-up to defend scores, a feat which they achieved in the last match against Mumbai Indians.
“Many teams are winning while chasing but we can never control the toss. So we will have to be mentally ready for anything. We have good bowling line-up in our set up, so we just have to get a good target and in the last match 160 was good enough for us,” he said.
Asked about the pitches on offer in this IPL, Samson said with every passing day the Indian pitches are getting slower.
“We had the World Cup here before this tournament so wickets in India are getting slower. So we will need to prepare ourselves according to the opponents and the conditions,” he said.
“The last game in Delhi was a bit slow wicket. So we will have to face that challenge.”