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Mohit Sharma Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Indian paceman Mohit Sharma, a former highest wicket-taker in a single Indian Premier League (IPL) season, believes that his new team Delhi Capitals’ strong Indian core will play a key role in the 2020 edition of the tournament from end-March. Sharma has been picked up by Capitals at last December’s IPL Auction in Kolkata.

“To win the IPL, the performance of your domestic players counts the most,” he said. “I think Delhi Capitals has the strongest bunch of Indian cricketers this season. We have the right mix of youth and experience,” said Sharma, who picked the highest number of wickets in the league (23) in 2014 season for Chennai Super Kings.

“Even last year, the general consensus among other franchises was that Delhi Capitals was the team with the most potential, thanks to their promising young players. I am confident that we can perform even better this year,” the pacer said in an interview. The Delhi-based franchise, who re-christened themselves in 2019 with an aim of turnaround in their fortunes, made the play-offs after a gap of more than five years and have boosted their squad with a couple of senior Indian players this time.

Ajinkiya Rahane, a loyalist and former captain at Rajasthan Royals, moved to Delhi on a trade-off while Ravi Ashwin was roped in from Kings XI Punjab to lend a weight of experience. Shikhar Dhawan and Ishant Sharma, two other senior Indian players, are also a part of the squad.

Hailing from Ballabhgarh in Haryana, Sharma considers Kotla (now renamed as Arun Jaitley Stadium) as his home ground, “I have been playing at Kotla since I was 16. When I found out that I was picked by Delhi Capitals at the auction, I was delighted to finally get a chance to play for my “home team”.

Currently training at the National Cricket Academy to regain his fitness post-surgery, the Indian pacer is also looking forward to working with Capitals Head Coach Ricky Ponting. “I am at a stage where good guidance can change the course of my career. I am really excited to learn from Ponting and the rest of the coaching staff,” he concluded.

The right-arm medium pacer burst into the limelight in the 2012-2013 Ranji season, following which he was signed on by Chennai. Sharma, on whom Chennai’s talismanic skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni pinned a lot of faith, took 20 wickets from 15 matches in his first year with the yellow shirts. The following season, he won the IPL’s Purple Cap for most wickets in the tournament – 23.

Between 2016-2018, he played for Kings XI Punjab before moving back to CSK last year. Sharma has a total of 91 IPL wickets to his name and is known to be one of the tournament’s most effective bowlers in Powerplays.

His consistency in domestic cricket earned Sharma an India call-up in 2013. He has 31 wickets from 26 ODIs and 6 wickets from 8 T20Is.