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New head coach Devang Gandhi aims to bring champion’s mindset, galvanise Delhi senior men’s team

IANS | September 18, 2023 11:06 AM

NEW DELHI: Devang Gandhi, the new head coach, has set his sights on creating a champion mentality and galvanising the Delhi senior men's team for the 2023-24 domestic season.

On Saturday, Gandhi, a former national selector from 2016 to 2020, was named as the new head coach of the Delhi senior men’s side, replacing Abhay Sharma. He is expected to link up with the team soon, especially with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, starting from October 16.

"The aim is to bring champion’s mindset to the Delhi team. The moment you have that mindset, all things will then automatically fall in place. If they are disciplined in all aspects, like being on time, putting the discipline on-field, in their diet, training, those extra hours in the nets – these are the things any champion player wouldn’t leave it to chance. So, when you give importance to all those finer details, and get into that champion mindset, then the team is going to do well, " said Gandhi to IANS.

Gandhi, who recently served as Bengal U19 coach, has his task cut out as Delhi had an underwhelming time in the last domestic season. Add to it, the selection panel was sacked even before the Ranji Trophy campaign was over, apart from a long injury list comprising many fast-bowlers.

Delhi were beaten by Vidarbha in the quarter-finals of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and failed to qualify for the knockouts of Vijay Hazare Trophy. In Ranji Trophy, they finished seventh in Elite Group B with 17 points, with wins over Mumbai and Hyderabad coming at the fag end of the campaign.

Also, Delhi won't have experienced batters Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana, who moved to Vidarbha and Uttar Pradesh. Gandhi views this as a chance for young people to step up as the side’s key batters while also working to bring the team together to achieve shared goals.

"It’s an opportunity for youngsters in Delhi (to step up in place of them). Whenever somebody goes, it does create a vacuum, but it also creates an opportunity. There are a lot of talented boys and it’s up to the boys now to grab the opportunities. Me and the coaching staff will try to facilitate that process. They will be galvanised in the pursuit of achieving the simple goals of the team."

Gandhi, who played four Tests and three ODIs for India, will be joined by bowling coach V Arvind, batting coach Bantu Singh and recently-retired wicketkeeper-batter Punit Bisht as fielding coach in Delhi. He has earmarked doing well in all formats and winning the Ranji Trophy, which Delhi won last time in 2007-08, as primary goals.

"The goal will obviously be to do well in all three formats. Basically, winning the Ranji Trophy would be the primary goal, besides the white-ball tournaments. Looking at the squad, there are a lot of talented boys and it’s a young side. So, idea is to galvanise them into one unit and there is lot of promise in talented cricketers out there, which we have to just translate into performances."

Gandhi was pleased with Delhi's performance in the Buchi Babu Invitational Cricket Tournament, where they finished as runners-up. In the tournament, batting duo of Jonty Sidhu and Himmat Singh made 257 and 241 runs respectively, while off-spin Hrithik Shokeen took 14 scalps.

Delhi also have Yash Dhull and Harshit Rana, who were part of the India A team that came in second at the Emerging Men's Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. Dhull was captain of the team there, while Rana also put in decent all-round performances in Duleep and Deodhar Trophies for North Zone.

"A lot of young players got an opportunity there. Reaching the finals there will definitely boost their confidence before the domestic tournaments begin. Buchi Babu is a very good pre-season tournament and a lot of teams have participated in it. Being runners-up in it augurs well for the team.”

When Gandhi was named as the Delhi senior men's head coach, he wrote on his Instagram story that growth occurs beyond one's comfort zone and it was time to initiate a new phase.

It's a big step out of comfort zone for someone who has been with Bengal and national selection panel to take up the challenge of regaining Delhi's lost glory.

"My comfort zone is Kolkata, where I also reside. The philosophy is that if you are out of your comfort zone, there are opportunities. A lot of people attribute risk as a negative fashion, but I feel risk is an opportunity. That is one aspect of it and for me, moving out of Kolkata to be a part of the Delhi team is a huge honour."

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