Delhi Daredevils, one of the worst-performing franchises in the history of the Indian Premier League, have turned to former India captain and ex-Rajasthan Royals mentor Rahul Dravid to take their charge of their team in the upcoming ninth season of Twenty20 extravaganza, starting next month.
The franchise parted ways with head coach Gary Kirsten after a disappointing showing last year, when they finished seventh out of eight teams. They were last in 2013 and 2014.
Dravid, who recently coached the Indian team which finished runners-up at the Under-19 World Cup, said he and coach Paddy Upton will be looking to create a good environment in the dressing room which will help their players perform well.
"What I will say is that we will try and create an environment which allows players to express themselves and play a brand of cricket that excites the fans of Delhi," said Dravid in Delhi on Tuesday, when he was unveiled as mentor of the Delhi franchise.
It marks the return of the Dravid-Upton combination which did well for the now suspended Rajasthan Royals.
Dravid also captained the Royals to the last four stage twice in the IPL.
Besides the high-profile announcement, former Mumbai opener Zubin Bharucha, who was earlier part of Rajasthan Royals, was named as the technical director of the side.
Former India players Pravin Amre and Sridharan Sriram remain part of the support staff alongside T A Sekar. The squad will undergo a camp in Delhi in two phases. The first phase started on Tuesday at the Teri Ground.
Dravid said he is looking forward to working with the Delhi side even though he had a 'very special time' at Rajasthan Royals.
"It is an exciting opportunity. I have never had the opportunity to play for Delhi but have played against them and coached against them, and you always looked at them and thought there is so much potential. From what I see, the Daredevils have assembled a young and exciting squad and along with the support staff, I am hoping for a successful season."
Asked whether it is a long term association with the Daredevils, the batting great said: "Everything is dependent on a lot of things so we will take one step at a time. As of now, I am looking forward to the next three months and we will take the future as it comes."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had no qualms in saying that he will miss playing for Chennai Super Kings, the other team which was suspended for two years in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal.
Dravid too has fond memories of his time at Rajasthan Royals.
"I have got fond memories there (of Royals). It is pretty obvious why the opportunity came. I thought I won't be involved in the IPL for the next couple of years. It is natural (to feel the connect) if you spend five years at any place.
"Having said that, I am looking forward to building some great associations at Daredevils. I have known some of the people here for a long time. Hopefully, we can have a good season," added Dravid.
Some of the players Delhi bought at the February auction are Pawan Negi (Rs 8.5 crore), Rishabh Pant, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson after retaining the likes of J P Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Mohammed Shami and Mayank Agarwal. Asked what went wrong for Delhi in the last three seasons and his plans for the upcoming season, Dravid said: "It is very hard to pinpoint from outside and say where things have gone wrong. The nature of T20 is extremely fickle. You might have all your plans but sometimes it just doesn't work.
"Delhi were unfortunate to lose a few close games last year including one against us (Rajasthan Royals). Sometimes it doesn't necessarily mean that there is something seriously wrong when results don't go your way. What I will say is that we will try and create an environment which allows players to express themselves and play a brand of cricket that excites the fans of Delhi."
Besides Royals colleague Upton for company, Dravid will have youngsters like Sanju Samson and Karun Nair.
"I wasn't involved in the auction process at all. I think team that was involved spent quite a bit of time looking at the young domestic talent and the decision they took was to go down and take a younger route, which is something I am excited about."
The squad has as many as four wicketkeepers in Quinton de Kock, Sanju Samson, Risabh Pant and Sam Billings.
"All of them are quality players. If you talk about De Kock, Samson and Pant, all three of them are very good batsmen. They hold their own as batsmen in most teams. You might end up seeing two of them playing as batsmen and the other one as wicketkeeper.
"There is also Sam Billings. He doesn't keep a lot for England because Jos Butler keeps. And all four good fielders and good batsmen."