IPL 2020 — CSK vs DC: Mohammad Kaif provides update on Ashwin, Ishant Sharma's fitness
Dubai: Delhi Capitals (DC) will be taking on the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in their second encounter of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2020) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai today (September 25). Having won their first match of the campaign against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on Sunday, Delhi will go into the match high on confidence, but will have to deal with the threat of CSK as they will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Tuesday.
Addressing the media over a virtual press conference on Thursday, DC’s assistant coach Mohammad Kaif spoke about a variety of topics including fitness updates on experienced duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma.
"Ashwin is going for practice today and we haven’t taken a call yet if he is going to be available or not for tomorrow’s game. We will see how the practice goes," Kaif said. "We are monitoring him closely. But yes, if he is not fit to play tomorrow, we have Amit Mishra who is very experienced player, and has been doing well in the IPL. So yes that’s a plus point in this squad that we have got a replacement ready in case required," added the former Indian batsman.
Kaif also provided a similar update on pacer Ishant Sharma. "Ishant had a full run yesterday. He was sprinting well and is currently under observation. Our team physio Patrick Farhart has been keeping a close eye on him and we will also take a call today after our practice session in the evening," said the 39-year-old.
DC have played CSK 20 times, but have only managed to win six of those encounters, losing the other 14 – three of which came during last season. However, Kaif says it will be “a different ball game altogether” in the UAE. “I believe stats might not give the proper picture this season. We played them last time 16-17 months ago, so a lot has changed since then. We’re a very different squad from last season and have brought in some players in the Auction,” he said.
Kaif was also asked whether CSK playing their third game in six days on Friday will be an advantage for Delhi, to which he said, "I'm not sure if it is an advantage. I believe on the day you have to play well to win. In this tournament, everyone is strong and we’ve all got equal teams. But if you ask me personally, I think this four-day break has been good for us – we’ve had the chance to go to the nets and debrief as well, so it has been beneficial.”
Asked on how he has assessed the pitches so far, Kaif said "grass cover has been assisting pacers at the moment." He added, "We can see there is a lot of fast bowling at the moment in matches. Teams have stuck with fast bowlers in the first 6 overs, where they're trying to make use of the conditions. And then spinners come later on and manage the middle overs. There is definitely something for the fast bowlers, but pitches will favor the spinners later on in the tournament."
The former Indian player was also quizzed about what he believes is the par score in the UAE. “I guess at the moment 160-170 might be good. But at Sharjah, you might see bigger scores. There is also the factor that batsmen are a bit rusty also, and that means there is scope for improvement. So I'm sure you'll see much higher scores in the coming few matches also around 180-190,” he said.
Having been a brilliant fielder during his time with the Indian team, Kaif was also asked if there is special emphasis on high catching under lights and fielding in dewy conditions. "I think it’s more about awareness of the fielders. You have big grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi so there’s lots of running involved, you have to cut those angles on these big grounds. But yes, fielding is something that takes a while to get back into the game, but I’m sure in the next match you’ll see a big change from the first match,” he replied.
"There wasn’t much dew when we came here, but in the past one week-10 days we’ve seen a bit of it, especially at the ICC Academy where we train. But at the stadium, there isn’t much dew at the moment. It is difficult to train in the dew also because the ball becomes wet and hurts that extra bit, so we need to keep training keeping in mind that we also not let it cause any injuries,” he added.
Kaif also commented on what Marcus Stoinis brings to the side. “He's been playing for his country for a long time. He is a perfect match for our team because he can float — he might go up the order according to the situation. We needed someone like him, and are really happy to have him performing,” Kaif expressed.