'Gautam Gambhir's precise decision-making made him my favourite captain', says IPL bound Delhi Capitals' latest buy Lalit Yadav (Exclusive)

Aakash Arya

Lalit Yadav (Image courtesy: Delhi Capitals)

An aspiring cricketer from the land of Najafgarh, it's no brainer that this big-hitter of the ball idolizes Virender Sehwag to send shivers down a bowler's spine. The magnitude of Yuvraj Singh's epic six sixes off Stuart Broad was immense and considerably changed the way Indian cricket was looked at. Now here's a young cricketer who has achieved a similar feat not once, but twice!

Things have happened quickly and cards have fallen in the right place at the right time for 23-year-old Delhi stroke-maker, Lalit Yadav. Still a relatively unknown entity, Yadav was roped in by IPL franchise Delhi Capitals at his base price of INR 20 lakh at the recently-concluded auction. 

2017 was a landmark year in the life of Lalit Yadav. Not only did he hit six sixes in an over twice, but also made his first-class debut for Delhi Ranji side. Yadav scored heavily in the first few games but it was the intent with which he scored those runs that made the selectors and scouts take notice. His no-nonsense approach, regardless of the opposition bowler's reputation, was eye-catching and with the IPL auctions in line, Yadav peeked at the right time.

Sportskeeda caught up with the upcoming star to speak about how he is preparing for one of the most crucial years of his cricketing career:

You have hit six sixes in an over twice. When did you feel that you could achieve the feat of hitting six sixes in an over during your innings for Sporting Club in a T20 tournament at Najafgarh Sports Complex?

It was after the fourth six of the over when I thought that Gaurav Kumar, my Ranji Trophy colleague, had used up all of his variations like the slower ball, bouncer and the yorker. Kumar looked under pressure before the fifth delivery and I thought that the two remaining balls can also be put away. Still, I think it was purely instinctive when I hit the last two balls out of the park.

Describe the kind of psychological state you were in while pursuing this rare feat of hitting two sixes again, this time at a DDCA T20 League at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi?

The thought of repeating that amazing feat didn't cross my mind while playing that over bowled by a leg-spinner. At the start of the over, I was at the non-striker's end, and it was a culmination of the bowler's no-balls that helped me take the strike and hit six sixes again.

Your record in the limited number of first-class matches has been nothing but impressive. A knock of 52 runs on your first-class debut followed by two more half-centuries in the first four games must have been immensely motivating. Do you think that you can replicate the good performances in four-day matches in the wham-bam T20 structure as well?

There is a slight difference in mindset while playing a four-day game and a T20 match. In the first-class games, we enter with a strict psyche of staying at the crease as long as possible and grinding out the runs. We analyze ourselves session-by-session but the planning tends to differ during a T20 match. The basic difference is understanding the constant changes to a white-ball to the red leather. Then understanding the basic field changes and the 30-yard circle is key to a T20 game. Scoring at the start, calculating the middle-overs and then cashing-in on the death overs is how a batsman goes about his business in a T20 match.

Do you think IPL cricket presents a golden opportunity or a ladder for a domestic cricketer to dream for a place in the Indian National Team?

Yes. I think IPL is an ideal platform to present your case for a place in the Indian Team and for the selectors to consider you. It shouldn't be taken as a shortcut but instead a good opportunity to understand the thinking of proven players. Cricketers like Deepak Chahar, who have performed tremendously well for IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, made the best use of an Indian call-up when he demolished the Bangladesh batting line-up and eventually won the ICC award for it.

When did Delhi Capitals notice you as a possible option for the IPL 2020 Auction?

I went to the trials that were organized by Delhi Capitals. They knew that I was already in the Ranji Trophy set up and had contacted me to participate in the upcoming trials. They had been keeping a close eye on me after my twin six-hitting exploits and therefore wanted to have a more thorough look.

How much of a difference will the IPL make in terms of your preparation for a T20 match in comparison with the state-level T20 leagues?

The excitement of playing the IPL is indescribable. But right now, my entire focus is on the ongoing Ranji Trophy matches and scoring big for the Delhi state team. After this, I will be joining the Delhi Capitals squad. The preparation for the IPL is going to be different from other tournaments or leagues.

How will the presence of former national and international players as well as coaches help in your development of the game?

I hope to learn a lot from the presence of international and national players, coaches and the supports staff. Legends of the game like Ricky Ponting, Mohammad Kaif and James Hopes will help me to reach the next level and improve my game overall. There will be a lot to learn from the senior and experienced players in the team like Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma, Shreyas Iyer, Amit Mishra, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant. I have been playing with Ishant Sharma for a couple of years now in the Ranji Trophy and his presence in the squad will surely make me more comfortable to adjust to the dynamics of the team.

With the presence of the international level of bowlers, will you enter with the same mindset in the IPL as you have for your state team?

I like to focus on what's happening at the present moment rather than planning and thinking too far ahead. If I start thinking about my playing style and preparation two months before the IPL begins, my concentration on the Ranji Trophy will get affected. I try to play according to the merit of the ball rather than having any preconceived notions before the match. The excitement will surely be there but it will have to be kept under control in front of such a big stage.

Rapid-fire

Best captain you've played with or against?

Gautam Gambhir

(His decision-making is extremely good. He is a team-man and always puts the team's needs before anything or anyone.)

Favourite non-Indian batsman?

AB de Villiers

The player you've idolized while growing up?

Virender Sehwag.

(We both are from Najafgarh and I try to follow his approach towards the game.)