Lalit Yadav: ‘Shane Watson’s inputs helping improve players’ mindset’

All-rounder Lalit Yadav played the entire set of Delhi Capitals’ first 10 matches in the Indian Premier League this season before being dropped for the contest against Chennai Super Kings. Notwithstanding his somewhat lukewarm performances, the faith shown by the team management in his all-round abilities – he offers expertise in batting, bowling (off-spin) and fielding – shows the rapid strides he has made as a player.

Having scored a half-century on debut in first-class cricket in 2017 for Delhi, Lalit had to wait until February this year to score his first ton – a sparkling 177 against Tamil Nadu, an innings studded with 17 boundaries and 10 sixes. To be sure, his stats with bat and ball in first-class and T20 cricket have been impressive – noteworthy are his batting average of 46.72 in 15 first-class matches, a batting average of 33.40 and a strike-rate of 138.01 in 57 T20s, and a bowling economy rate of 7.10 in T20s. But with good performances in domestic cricket and a regular spot in the Capitals’ line-up, this year has been more special than others.

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In an interaction with Sportstar ahead of a must-win game against Rajasthan Royals, Lalit speaks about the Capitals’ dressing room, the team’s achilles heel this season, the value of Shane Watson’s inputs, and more.

Q. You have part of the Capitals set-up since 2020. Many say they have a nice team environment. What are your observations on the bonding between members of the team and Ricky Ponting’s methods?

A. I haven’t been with any other franchise. Here international stars aren’t treated differently than the others. I remember when I first came into the team, Ricky treated Rishabh Pant and me equally. Pant was the vice-captain of the team at that point. So that made me feel comfortable. Treating everyone equally creates a good atmosphere. During practice sessions and strategy discussions, the atmosphere is quite comfortable (sic). It’s a healthy environment; you’re comfortable and can give your best.

Shane Watson joined the club this this season as an assistant coach. What learnings have you and others taken from him?

The discussions with Watson pertain to finding ways to stay in a better zone mentally. We’ve seen that even the legends are successful on only 40 percent of the days they’re playing cricket. But youngsters brood over their bad days. Watson’s inputs have been helpful in finding ways to overcome this tendency and move ahead. He speaks about his own state of mind and what he did during his own career which helped him. We can only control the controllables. We’ve felt these things but now for the first time we have somebody to talk about it.

With a new team this season Capitals have been erratic and haven’t yet won two in a row. Is there anything missing from last season or is it just a case of not finding the groove?

In the past, we had a group of players who knew each other very well. It’s a different team now, like all the other teams. It holds true for every team that the players need time to get to know each other and bond. I think it takes a year for a franchise to build a new team. There’s no shortage of talent in our team, but we need to be more consistent.

We’ve seen that when confronted with pressure situations, a few of our decisions have gone wrong. We become a bit casual. We need to learn from these and aspire to become more consistent. The good teams are those which give their best from the first ball to the last ball of the 40th over, and sometimes they aren’t able to win even those games because some unfortunate things also happen. We need to be more consistent and follow the same process throughout the match.

Our team is very positive for the next three matches (sic). And that’s a good thing.

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Let’s talk about your performances. A magnificent 48 (unbeaten) was followed by some decent contributions with the bat, most notably a quickfire 37 against the Royals. You’ve made some handy contributions with the ball and in the field, too. How do you assess your performance overall so far?

I started on a good note. Some things just didn’t work out for me in the middle. Now I’m learning what I can do better. I have the self-belief and will give my best in the remaining three games. I won’t think much about what happened in the past.

You scored your debut century this year in the Ranji Trophy and are now featuring regularly in the playing XI for the Capitals. What is your goal for the coming years?

I’m working hard, and learning along the way. I just wish to represent my country and be in the selectors’ minds.

You saw Yash Dhull piling on the runs for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, and now he’s with your team here in Mumbai. Your observations of him.

He’s grown immensely in the last five months. Whatever I’ve seen of him – we have been playing together for the last four-five years – he’s improved rapidly in recent months. He had the skills, but the way he handled pressure [was amazing] – we saw during the U-19 World Cup semifinal against Australia, he scored a century, after having missed three matches due to COVID-19. It shows his character. I’m very happy to see his growth. The mental aspect of the game is what makes us successful in the long run. He’s doing really well. I personally want him to continue progressing, and he has a bright future for India (sic).

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