CHENNAI: Ravichandran Ashwin, a key cog in the Delhi Capitals wheel, admits the franchise will feel the absence of Shreyas Iyer. But he insists that this is a good opportunity for Rishabh Pant to prove his mettle as a captain. In an interview with this daily, he also opined that Mumbai Indians will be the team to beat in the 14th edition of the league. Excerpts:
On looking forward to carrying momentum from the England series
Obviously, I am looking forward to carry on that momentum. I’m in a happy space of mind and enjoying my game. My batting, bowling everything is doing well. I am totally involved in my game and everything is going on smoothly.
On Delhi’s chances
Good, well balanced one. Last year, our batting did not come well together. It was understandable due to lockdown and all that. But this year, in the kind of form in which Rishabh is, definitely that (team’s batting) also will get sorted out. We have a good chance. But if you see the last few years, it is not always about the top two or three sides. Every team picks players judiciously and have good balance and options. The IPL is in a new caravan model so conditions also will play a part.
On what makes Pant tick and his chances of being successful as skipper
Many people say that he is fearless and all that. I think he is naturally blessed with a good bat swing. Lot of people crave for that bat swing. He is able to produce immense power, that is not an ordinary thing for a cricketer. I think that really sets him apart. We have to give him a chance and wait and see what he does. He comes from a modest background. He has a simple attitude in life and has made a comeback of sorts recently. I wish him all the best and hope that he can deliver.
On Steve Smith’s presence
Having an experienced player is always good for us. Especially now that Shreyas is not there which is a big blow for us. Hopefully someone like Smith share his experience and add value to the team.
On the absence of Shreyas and will it impact side
Definitely, He is a very important player for us. This is my second year, but he (Shreyas) has been with the team for a long time and delivered. The team will miss him especially the way he was batting.
On living life in another bubble
It is very difficult. But the moment I say that, I am also watching out for people who are struggling in life. This pandemic has ended a lot of people’s jobs, it very difficult for people to manage their livelihoods. I am doing what I like (play cricket)... I shouldn’t be grieving, but cricket is a tough man’s sport.
On your tip for the tournament
Every team is strong and I am not making a diplomatic statement. But I definitely think Mumbai has got a powerful and experienced squad. Mumbai will always start as favourites in this competition. I think Mumbai is the team to beat.