The Delhi Capitals assistant coach remembered some of the epic cricketing battles between India and Pakistan back in the 90s.
Walking onto the Sharjah turf, a stadium so steeped in cricket history, memories came flooding back for former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif.
“Hopefully, this year also we will give joy to our Delhi fans by playing some good cricket.” ??
– Delhi Capitals (Tweeting from ????) (@DelhiCapitals) September 8, 2020
Though he never got the opportunity to play a game at this historic ground, the Delhi Capitals assistant coach remembered some of the epic cricketing battles between India and Pakistan back in the 90s.
“I had come to Sharjah a long time ago. I remember in the India vs Pakistan match, I was sitting there. And, in those times, you could actually have a chat with the players because they were sitting so close by. It was a dream come true, because when I was growing up, matches between India and Pakistan played at Sharjah, it was a big hype in my small area where I was growing up. You know Imran Khan and from India Kapil Dev…some big names. Yeah, it is a very special place to be,” said Kaif.
“I had come here a couple of times before but I didn’t get a chance to play in the first XI when I played for India. But just being with the IPL team now – Delhi Capitals – and to be able to come back here again and practice with the boys…great memories,” he added about the venue which holds the record for hosting the most number of ODIs.
This is the second season that Kaif will be working with coach and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting and he said that they have struck a great relationship during this time.
“Being the assistant coach, my role is to help Ricky Ponting and make sure I give all the information, whatever he needs from my side. Having spent one year, last year with him, when the boys played so well last year, we have some nice communication going on at the moment. I also understand his way of coaching and that also makes a big difference. (After) spending one year last year, now we are at ease. We understand each other,” the 39-year-old said.
As the squad went through their paces at the stadium, Kaif said that he was surprised to see the boys up and running quickly despite the long hiatus from cricket.
“Team atmosphere is good. We thought that the boys will take a little longer to come back into the rhythm. But the way they have been batting in the nets, all the batters and the bowlers, it didn’t seem that they had a long lay-off even though they came from lockdown after spending four-five months back home doing nothing, basically. I think it took them very less time,” felt Kaif, who played 13 Tests and 125 ODIs for India.
“Boys are excited and we have some new faces from different teams joining Delhi Capitals. We are trying to go from strength to strength. Hopefully, this year also we will give joy to our Delhi fans by playing some good cricket,” he added.
Kaif said that playing without fans in the stadiums will make a huge difference but hoped that that the team can make them happy with their performance on the field.
“Absolutely!” Kaif said when asked if the team will miss their fans.
“But initially we feared that the IPL itself won’t happen amid the pandemic. But now that we are here and when we play our matches, fans will be relieved even if they watch us on TV. They will still be able to watch the role models they admire. Of course, we will miss our Indian fans and the atmosphere that the fans create when we play the IPL in India. That is not comparable. We will try our best to satisfy our fans through the quality of cricket we play, even if it is only on TV,” he added.
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