Coach in South Africa, camp in Delhi

Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya is headed to South Africa as part of the KKR coaching team for the Champions League T20.

New Delhi: The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) would be praying for an early exit of the Kolkata Knight Riders from the Champions League T20 tournament, which begins on Tuesday.

If KKR go the distance and play the final on October 28, their recently appointed coach Vijay Dahiya will return just before Delhi’s first Ranji Trophy match against Uttar Pradesh (beginning Nov 2). He would have missed most of October training camp with the Delhi players.

After last year’s bad experience when their coach Manoj Prabhakar was sacked following differences with the players and they failed to qualify for the knockouts, the DDCA had hired the coach of the IPL-winning KKR to boost their chances. However, a month before the start of the new season, it had to bow to BCCI's directive of releasing seven players and coach for the CLT20.

Chairman of selectors Chetan Chauhan admitted his helplessness. “That’s the way it is. But not all seven players will be away. Some teams won’t go the distance, so those players will return earlier.”

“We took into account the Champions League too, which is why we have kept Sanjeev Sharma as the assistant coach,” said DDCA general secretary Sneh Bansal.  “I don’t think it’ll affect the preparations adversely.”

Coach Dahiya doesn’t seem that perturbed. “That (CLT20) is also a type of cricket and we have been training for quite a while ahead of the CLT20,” he added.

Despite the views of DDCA and Dahiya, former Delhi players like Madan Lal don’t seem too impressed with the way domestic cricket is being treated. “Domestic cricket is like a shop that opens in October and shuts in March. It has been neglected and we should recognise the fact that the real talent will come from here not IPL or Champions League,” he said.

The Duleep Trophy that begins on Saturday will miss all the top players who play for the Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians as they'll be busy with the CLT20.

Former India and Delhi player Maninder Singh said, “Is anybody bothered? The problem is that there is so much cricket that they can’t manage it. It has turned into a khichdi, where everything clashes.”

Too mild
A section in the association thinks that assistant coach Sanjeev Sharma is too mild to handle the Delhi team. “You have seen last year’s results. If your head coach, especially of the stature of Vijay Dahiya, is away just ahead of the season, it may hurt badly,” said an official.