New Delh i : Gautam Gambhir has stepped down as captain of Delhi Daredevils with immediate effect, six matches into another disappointing IPL season for the GMR-owned franchise.
Shreyas Iyer has been named skipper of the struggling Daredevils who - coming off the 2017 IPL season in which they finished sixth on the points table with six wins from 14 games - again face a very tough road ahead to qualify for the play-offs. They currently languish at the bottom of the IPL 11 leaderboard with one win from six matches.
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Gambhir said: "It was my decision. I haven't contributed enough to the team. I had to take the responsibility being the leader of the ship. I feel it was the right time."
"May be I was too desperate to turn things around and that can backfire. It could be the reason. I just couldn't handle the pressure and when you don't do that, you have to own that up as a leader," Gambhir added.
The press briefing was also attended by franchise CEO Hemant Dua and coach Ricky Ponting.
"I want to thank the management and my coaches for appointing me as the captain of the team. It is a great honour for me," Iyer said after being appointed as the captain of DD.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL titles, returned to his first franchise as captain for the current season but the results have not been what the owners would have desired. The 36-year-old has so far managed 85 runs in five innings, of which 55 came in Daredevils' first game. Since then, his scores are 8, 3 and 4. His season strike-rate of 96.59 is higher than only Colin Munro (66), Daniel Christian (79.16) and Vijay Shankar (90).
Gambhir is the IPL's fourth-highest run-getter with 4217 from 152 innings and is credited with turning around KKR's fortunes with his innovative captaincy, crucial batting and selection of certain uncapped Indian and experienced overseas players, but whether he makes the Daredevils' playing XI now that he is not captain remains to be seen.
Gambhir's standing down from the captaincy comes a day after Daredevils CEO Hemant Dua tweeted a series of statements to the franchise's fans, one of which was that "bold decisions are around the corner".
Dua's final tweet on Thursday mentioned Gambhir, in which he said: "For all those crying foul about Gambhir let me be clear, he is the finest man, I have met who is passionate about cricket, works hard and is super committed for success of Delhi Daredevils ... his team is the city we all love".
Daredevils, who roped in Gambhir as captain for IPL 2018 amid a host of big-ticket purchases at January's player auction, were dented before their campaign began, with news that strike bowler Kagiso Rabada would not play this season owing to an injury, and with most of the big overseas signings not delivering the expected results, they have lurched from one defeat to another.
Their losses have been to Kings XI Punjab (by seven wickets and four runs), Rajasthan Royals (by 10 runs on D/L method), KKR (by 71 runs) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (by six wickets). The one victory was over defending champions Mumbai Indians on the road, when England batsman Jason Roy made his debut in place of the struggling Munro and powered a chase of 195 with an unbeaten 91 off 53 balls.
Before the IPL player auction in January, Daredevils retained Chris Morris, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer. On day one of the auction, the owners spent 34.7 crore on 12 players: Glenn Maxwell (9 crore), Rabada (4.2 crore), Amit Mishra (4 crore), Shankar (3.2 crore), Mohammed Shami and Rahul Tewatia (3 crore), Gambhir (2.8 crore), Munro (1.9 crore), Roy (1.5 crore), Prithvi Shaw (1.2 crore), Avesh Khan (70 lakh) and Harshal Patel (20 lakh).
On day two, they added Shahbaz Nadeem (3.2 crore), Trent Boult (2.2 crore) and Daniel Christian (1.5 crore) among others.
The results have been disappointing, overall. After that 91 not out, Roy managed six runs in two innings. Munro appeared a steal deal at the auction when, ranked No 1 in T20Is, he was purchased for Rs 1.9 crore from a base price of 75 lakh, but he has so far managed four runs in two matches. Maxwell has 93 runs in five matches with a best of 47; Christian has scored 19 runs and taken four wickets in three matches; Morris has three wickets and 46 runs in as many games; Mishra has conceded 79 runs in eight overs without taking a wicket; Nadeem has taken three wickets in two matches while conceding runs at 10.50 an over; Shami has en economy rate of 10.40 and three wickets to show for in four appearances.
Their latest defeat came on Monday in their first home game at the Kotla, where they did well to restrict KXIP to 143/8 with IPL debutant Liam Plunkett - the replacement for Morris - taking 3/17 in four overs, but then messed up another chase by limping to 139/8.
Last week, writing in his column for TOI, Gambhir had appealed to Daredevils' supporters to keep faith in the struggling team. His response had come following a backlash of vitriol on social media, to which Gambhir had written: "In the times when everything is judged on "trolls", "hits", "followers" or "likes", it seems my team has committed some sort of crime. If we don't react in a certain way it doesn't mean we aren't hurt. We are all concerned that we conceded almost 200 runs in two consecutive games. We won against Mumbai Indians but even that night I went to bed worried. Yes, we should have been more competitive against Kolkata Knight Riders. But if you read what your smart phone has to say it would seem that we have given them a walkover!"
Daredevils next play KKR at the Kotla on Friday.