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Zaheer Khan itching to get back onto the field in IPL

Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan has expressed that he is very eager to get back onto the field in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after nearly a year away from competitive cricket.

Last month, Khan was appointed as the captain of the Delhi Daredevils side for the 2016 IPL, where the team management has chosen a relatively young and talented squad in the player auction.

Khan will be joined by his long-time India teammate and former captain Rahul Dravid, who will be the mentor of the Daredevils in the IPL.

Stating that it was a great responsibility to lead the side, Zaheer is happy to be working with Dravid and is looking to transform the team strategies into performance on the field.

“It’s a great responsibility and a great challenge I would say, something I would look forward to.

“As you know our squad is full of youngsters, so it’s my opportunity to give it back to the game.

“Rahul (Dravid) also sees it in the same fashion.

“Dravid has worked a lot with the Under-19 boys and enjoys the responsibility, enjoys being out there on the field, connected with cricket.

“It’s important that we transform everything on the field so it’s a good challenge at this stage.”

The last competitive tournament, Khan took part in was the 2015 IPL, wherein he played just seven matches out of the 14 games for the Daredevils.

Expressing his excitement to get back onto the cricket field, Khan also is looking forward to work with the young squad and stated that it was amazing to see the energy in the team during practice sessions.

The 37-year-old also pointed out that players like Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson have enjoyed a good domestic season and is backing them to perform in the IPL.

“(I am) very excited. I hardly played any cricket since last IPL so (I am) itching to get back there on the field, wearing the Delhi Daredevils jersey.

“(I am) looking forward to work with some young energy, we have a lot of youngsters in the side.

“All I can say is that that young energy will be visible on the field.

“These are the guys who have been performing consistently well in the Indian domestic season, so I’m really excited to work with the young guys, especially Shreyas (Iyer) who had great season and Karun Nair, Sanju Samson you just name it.

“Mohammed Shami is also coming from the injury and raring to go, so it’s amazing to see the energy at the practice sessions right now.

“Everyone is just excited and looking forward to this season.

“We have someone like Quinton (de Kock), (Carlos) Brathwaite who is coming with such a confidence right now.”

Khan’s erstwhile teammate, Ashish Nehra has made a terrific comeback to the Indian Twenty20 International side and is currently one among the top 10 bowlers in the format in 2016.

From 15 T20Is in 2016, Nehra has taken 18 wickets at an average of 20.66 while he was one of the most economical bowlers in the recently concluded ICC World T20, conceding just 5.94 runs per over in five matches.

When asked if he regretted the decision to retire from international cricket after seeing Nehra’s comeback, Zaheer lauded his former teammate and said that he had no second thoughts about his decision.

“No, I am very happy with my decision and I am sticking to that.

“I am very happy to see Ashish Nehra do well.

“In fact, he has motivated me quite a lot to get back to training.

“I was just very clear about walking away from international cricket per se.

“Just happy with (playing in) this form of cricket where you are able to kind of give it back when you spend enough time with the youngsters and guiding them right throughout.

“This is something that I enjoy. The thought process was very clear and it has not changed.”

Delhi Daredevils begin their upcoming season of the IPL with the away game against the Kolkata Knight Riders on 10th April at the Eden Gardens.

© Cricket World 2016