Delhi Daredevils are rejigging their options in the wake of the Jesse Ryder assault case in Christchurch on Thursday. With the burly left-handed batting all-rounder surely out of the Indian Premier League, Delhi will now have to plan anew ahead of their first match against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on April 3.
The 28-year-old Ryder was due to fly to Delhi to start his USD 300,000 contract in the IPL. He had chosen not to play for New Zealand since the Napier ODI against South Africa in February 2012 after being disciplined by the team management for being out drinking while carrying an injury. Ryder will now miss his lucrative contract as Delhi will seek his replacement after discussing with captain Mahela Jayawardene on Friday.
Delhi's team mentor T A Sekar said: "I spoke to him (Ryder) a couple of days back and he was looking to join the Delhi Daredevils squad. It is very unfortunate that he got hit and is not in a position to play IPL. He is a good kid and I have been watching him from 2008 onwards. Ashish Nehra, who was Jesse's team-mate last season in Pune, told me that Jesse is a good team man, who plays according to the team's needs. He is a brilliant fielder, too."
Delhi will also seek a replacement for injured former Indian pacer Varun Aaron, but Ryder's absence puts pressure on the team more because England batting star Kevin Pietersen had earlier pulled out due to injury. Sekar says the team will now bank on its home-spun talent and of course its international imports.
"KP not playing is a setback but we formed our team in such a way that we can tweak our combination. We have Jeevan Mendis, who is a good all-rounder and gives us a spin bowling option. We have Andre Russell who can hit the ball long distances as we saw in the ICC World Twenty20," said Sekar, probably relieved for the fact that his team's first game is at a venue that is not allergic to Sri Lankans.
Delhi is looking Kolkata in the eye in spite of the injury blows the team has suffered.
Sekar says: "We are not down and out. We have Viru (Virender Sehwag), David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Irfan Pathan and Unmukt Chand who hit back-to-back hundreds in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament in Indore. I don't think we have a dearth of talent. We will have to regroup and make sure that we do what we did last season."
A game of T20 is never easy and given the game's glorious uncertainties, Delhi will remain a massive threat to Kolkata.
"We started last season with a win in Kolkata and we will go there with a similar frame of mind. We have the ammunition to do it and I am sure we will do it. We need to work harder to go to the next level. We are plugging the gaps in our game," said Sekar.