Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan (Credit: Delhi Capitals)

It might be the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), but Delhi Capitals are starting afresh and CEO Dhiraj Malhotra says the most important aspect for the team is to build a fan base and a sense of loyalty among the cricket lovers in the national capital.

Speaking to IANS, Dhiraj spoke about the season ahead, the reason behind not handing the captaincy to Shikhar Dhawan and also how the team is looking at Rishabh Pant to win the team more games this season.

“It is the first season for us and the biggest thing is to build a big fan base. There is so much diversity that it is very difficult to create that feeling of belonging for the team. We do wish to do very well and we have the team to do well. We are stressing on performance, fan base and finishing as the number one team in the table,” he said.

Asked what has gone wrong for the team previously and how the management was looking to change that, Dhiraj said: “We have made sure we have a back-up for every position. We had injuries last year and didn’t have back-ups. We have tried to look into those areas. We also had a young team last year and we have tried to retain the core. The feeling of team is there and hopefully we get the results this year.”

While DC roped in Dhawan even before the auction, he isn’t the captain and Dhiraj revealed that the opener wanted to focus on his batting and is happy to play under Shreyas Iyer just like the other stars in the team.

“He is a Delhi boy and it is always good to have him as we also have another local boy in Ishant Sharma. We wanted to strengthen our opening order. If you look at our top players, they are quality players, but young. So, we wanted Shikhar to guide them and to see them through. His experience will really help us.

“Captaincy isn’t an issue because that is how the spirit in this team is. Also, Shikhar is happy letting Shreyas lead the team. Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada have already played under Shreyas. Shikhar made it very clear he wanted to focus on his batting. While it was never discussed, it was quite apparent that he wanted to concentrate on his batting. He has been really helpful for the team,” the CEO said.

Any DC conversation is incomplete without talking of star player Rishabh Pant and Dhiraj wants the champion player to finish games for Delhi.

“Pant is a very exciting prospect and we are hoping that he finishes more games for us this season. He has the talent so that isn’t the issue. I am sure Ricky Ponting and Pravin Amre and Mohammed Kaif will speak to him on how the team expects him to finish more games for DC this season,” he smiled.

Asked about his own role and the ownership pattern, Dhiraj said: “The first year I am concentrating the fan base and building a family. We want the people of Delhi to feel that this is their team. I helped set up the IPL in the initial years. This is the first time that I am part of the franchise and it is exciting to be a part of the family.

“It is a 50-50 partnership between JSW and GMR. So we have one chairman as the owner for two years and another chairman for the next two years. We have a free hand from the owners and Parth Jindal is in charge for the first two years.”