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Gautam Gambhir steps down, Ishant Sharma to lead Delhi in Ranji Trophy cricket

Gautam Gambhir, who led Delhi in the Ranji Trophy for the past four seasons, expressed his desire to continue only as a player. Ishant Sharma is his replacement as captain.

cricket Updated: Sep 23, 2017 13:54 IST
Siddhartha Sharma
Siddhartha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Gautam Gambhir,Delhi,Ranji Trophy
Ishant Sharma will replace Gautam Gambhir as the captain of Delhi’s Ranji team in the upcoming season. (HT Photo)

The senior selection committee of the DDCA appointed India fast bowler Ishant Sharma as captain of the Delhi Ranji team for the 2017-18 season. The decision to appoint Ishant Sharma as skipper was taken after Gautam Gambhir stepped down officially from the post by informing Justice (retd) Vikramjit Sen over email stating his disinterest.

Last year, Delhi had gone through a lot of turmoil. Delhi failed to qualify and even Gambhir’s captaincy was given to Rishabh Pant. In a move to improve things, Ishant, whose limited-overs career for India could well be said to be over, has been considered for the state post. With Pant in the fray for India’s shorter formats, Ishant was an automatic choice in terms of his seniority and experience.

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“We wanted to get a broader perspective. The number of matches he has played, we want him to be more involved. Gautam Gambhir, we want him to concentrate on his batting. Just changed things around because nothing is working for Delhi. We didn’t qualify because we didn’t pick twenty wickets. Somebody like Ishant brings a lot to the table and we want him to be more involved as a skipper. Rishabh might be involved with a lot of T20 and ODI cricket and he might not be available for the season,” said Atul Wassan, DDCA selector.

The India seamer, who has played 77 Tests, has rarely been seen leading any side. But Wassan said his experience of over 10 years in the Indian dressing room will come in handy for Delhi. “Captaincy isn’t rocket science these days. You have Gautam on the ground, coaches, and we have a bowling coach this year too. He (Ishant) has been playing for India for 10 years, it calls for something and it’s not that bowlers are not good captains. The best example is Bishan Singh Bedi,” said Wassan.

Unlike last year, the Delhi pace attack seems young and inexperienced. Although Navdeep Saini has been a regular for the last two-three years and is also playing for India-A, he still could be termed a little inexperienced compared to the likes of Parwinder Awana and Sumit Narwal. Also, with Ranji Trophy returning to home-and-away format, Delhi will be looking to make the best use of the conditions in northern India, and Ishant’s presence in the squad could well see Delhi succeeding in picking 20 wickets.

For this reason, getting Ishant on board for the entire season could mean that he is also expected to mentor the side. His numbers at the international level might not be attractive but having played 77 Tests and having picked 218 wickets, Ishant certainly is equipped with the tricks to succeed at the domestic level.

For Delhi, he has been a consistent performer and whenever he has got a chance to lead the Delhi attack, Ishant has obliged with wickets and quick pace. Last season, he played two games and took wickets, including a four-wicket haul (4/80) against Karnataka. In 2015, he bagged a nine-wicket match haul to demolish Vidarbha in Delhi.

“Mentoring is a collective thing. Ishant can bring a lot to the table should Delhi find themselves in a peculiar situation. We also have Manoj Prabhakar to help him,” said Wassan.

As a youngster in the India team, Ishant too was mentored by Zaheer Khan. Later, Zaheer’s sharp thinking also saw him leading Mumbai and Delhi Daredevils. Being the most experienced India pacer, Ishant could have to play the same role for his Delhi pacers. He may not have got any opportunity to mentor pacers but it could be his chance to capitalise on the chance and show that he is much more than what his up-and-down career suggests.

First Published: Sep 22, 2017 20:28 IST