Devang Gandhi, the recently appointed head coach, has set his sights on instilling a champion mentality within the Delhi senior men’s cricket team as they prepare for the upcoming 2023-24 domestic season.
On Saturday, Gandhi, a former national selector from 2016 to 2020, was officially named as the new head coach of the Delhi senior men’s side, taking over from Abhay Sharma. He is expected to join the team soon, with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy commencing on October 16.
Gandhi’s primary objective is to foster a champion’s mindset within the Delhi team. He believes that when players develop this mindset, all aspects of their performance will naturally improve. Emphasizing discipline in areas such as punctuality, on-field behavior, diet, and training, Gandhi aims to create a culture where players pay attention to finer details, putting them on the path to becoming champions.
Delhi had a lackluster performance in the previous domestic season, and Gandhi, who recently served as the coach of Bengal U19, faces the challenge of revitalizing the team. Additionally, the selection panel was dismissed before the completion of the Ranji Trophy, and numerous fast bowlers were sidelined due to injuries.
During the last season, Delhi was eliminated by Vidarbha in the quarter-finals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and failed to qualify for the knockouts in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the Ranji Trophy, they finished seventh in Elite Group B with 17 points, managing victories over Mumbai and Hyderabad towards the end of the campaign.
Moreover, Delhi will be without experienced batsmen Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana, who have transferred to Vidarbha and Uttar Pradesh, respectively. Gandhi sees this as an opportunity for young talents to step up as key batters for the team while working together to achieve shared objectives.
Gandhi will be supported by the coaching staff, including bowling coach V Arvind, batting coach Bantu Singh, and recently retired wicketkeeper-batter Punit Bisht as the fielding coach in Delhi. The primary goals include excelling in all formats and winning the Ranji Trophy, a title Delhi last claimed in the 2007-08 season.
Gandhi expressed optimism about Delhi’s performance in the Buchi Babu Invitational Cricket Tournament, where they finished as runners-up. The tournament witnessed notable performances from batsmen Jonty Sidhu and Himmat Singh, as well as off-spinner Hrithik Shokeen.
Delhi’s squad includes promising players such as Yash Dhull and Harshit Rana, both of whom were part of the India A team that finished second in the Emerging Men’s Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. Gandhi believes that the team’s success in the Buchi Babu tournament will boost their confidence ahead of the domestic season.
Stepping into the role of Delhi’s senior men’s head coach marks a significant departure from Gandhi’s comfort zone, having previously been associated with Bengal and the national selection panel. However, he views this move as an opportunity for growth and a chance to contribute to Delhi’s resurgence in the cricketing arena.
Gandhi shared his perspective on this transition, stating, “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 honor.”