We're not here to keep throwing half-volleys to superstars: Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock was one of the youngsters in the Delhi Daredevils squad that played 13 of the 14 games in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Daredevils, that has been a side that has constantly chopped and changed, gave de Kock a steady run. It paid off as he finished as the top run-getter for the team with 445 at an average of 37.08 with three half-centuries and one hundred.
His hundred came on a momentous occasion where he helped Daredevils chase down 191 against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. That win was Daredevils' first-ever in ten games against Bangalore at the venue. Momentum on their side, they went through their first few games dishing out performances that surprised many that didn't expect a team that comprised of three quarters youngsters and one quarter seasoned pros.
Despite being just 23 years of age, de Kock delivered for his side more than once to give them the start they expected of him up front. Him aside, the likes of Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson have impressed on more than just one occasion, and de Kock hoped that the other franchises would have taken notice.
"Other people have now learnt that they can't take us too lightly, especially as youngsters," said de Kock. "We've put up a scrap always, as young guys, we're not just here to keep throwing half-volleys to superstars. We're here to compete. We've tried to make a name for ourselves for next year and years to come. Hopefully, we won't be taken for granted in the future."
However, after Daredevils were knocked out of the tournament by Royal Challengers Bangalore in a six-wicket defeat on Sunday (May 22), de Kock was a visibly disappointed lad after scoring 60 off 52 balls, ruing his untimely dismissal. That the dismissal upset him was evident after his flustered reaction, which came when he flat-batted a stroke to Chris Jordan who ran in from long off.
"We lost wickets at the wrong time. We also had a couple of soft dismissals. I lost my wicket the wrong time. We were under the pump. It could've gone either way though. If we had got 20 more runs, could've got 160. They had good game plans in the death and it was hard to finish off."
Coming into what was effectively a knockout game against Royal Challengers, Daredevils had made two changes, replacing Nathan Coulter-Nile and JP Duminy for Chris Morris and Sam Billings. In an attempt to elucidate the strategy behind the chopping and changing, de Kock said it was a case of picking horses for the course.
"We spoke about this at the beginning of the tournament. It was a collective thought as a team that we were going to play the XI that we thought that can take up to an opposing team with regards to their bowlers, spinners, because we had a lot of variety," he explained. "We tried and mixed and matched to complement who we were playing against. I think it's good that we mixed up. We've also learnt now combinations and stuff for the next season."
After finishing in sixth place, with seven wins and as many losses, Delhi went yet another year without making the playoffs, the last of which they made in 2012. Despite an unsuccessful season, there was much that de Kock took back from what has been a see-saw season for him personally.
"I'm still learning. I always go out there, trying to do the best I can. Unfortunately, I can't do it all the time. I still have quite a bit to learn about my own game. The tournament wasn't too bad. This is the most that I've played in the IPL for one season. This is my fourth and I think I missed only one game.
"I've learnt how to play spin better. I haven't had many opportunities in T20 to play spin, quality spin also... playing around different conditions. I know now what the wickets are about and want to come back next year," he said.
Royal Challengers notched their fourth successive win to shoot up to second spot in the points table after finding themselves on the brink of elimination. It was a massive turnaround for Bangalore with Virat Kohli not just leading the side onto the field, but more so with the bat with over 900 runs this season.
Against Daredevils, adhering to Kohli's plan of operating with spin and pace alternately, the slower bowler's tied Delhi's batsmen down effectively something that Yuzvendra Chahal admitted to.
"The ground is big and the wicket was a bit two-paced, so we planned that when me and Iqbal [Abdulla] were bowing we shouldn't be giving the batsmen any room," conceded Chahal, who returned 3 for 32. "From the other end too, Chris [Gayle] came on to bowl and picked up those wickets in two overs. Run-scoring became hard for them because every time they tried to score they lost wickets. Otherwise, I think 150-160 was a good score on this pitch," he added.