"If you look at the difference of this side compared to the past squads, I think there is definitely a rise in standard. We've got a lot of superstars, a lot of match-winners, which makes our team extremely dangerous, which should be good for future," said Hodge, prior to their opening encounter against Delhi Daredevils.
While top order batsman Aaron Finch is not going to be available for Sunday's match, Hodge said that while his absence is going to be "a huge loss", but the team has got the talent to cover his role.
He said the side boasts of some of "extremely dangerous cricket players" and "all match winners on their own". In addition to Ashwin, KXIP has players like Yuvraj Singh, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Karun Nair, Axar Patel, Lokesh Rahul, Marcus Stoinis, Manoj Tiwary, Andrew Tye, among others.
About KL Rahul, he said that the top-order batsman has taken up the challenge of delivering the dual role by keeping wickets, which gives the team more options. "He has been working extremely hard and he is excited about this competition," he said.
When asked that after ten years of IPL, how does he see this season being different in terms of innovation, which the bowlers or batsmen may try, the Aussie said, "it is hard to pinpoint what it is, but we are certainly seeing the game evolve dramatically from day one, when Brendon McCullum hit 158 for KKR."
On being asked what can be considered as a "safe total" in the competition these days, he said one might get to see over 200 runs being scored more regularly. "But then that's where the evolution of the bowler might come into play, they might then get little more crafty and come up with few more tricks...But I think 200 may be achieved a lot more than in the past," he said.
Asked about the impact both he and team mentor Virender Sehwag have had on the team, he said, "We certainly complement each other...if there is any question, doubt or thought in any of the players' mind, then there is easy access to both of us. We both have very similar thought process, the way we should play the game, the way we should attack the game and the partnership has been working. To work with someone like Viru is simply outstanding.
Delhi Daredevils batting coach Praveen Amre spoke about franchise's youth policy. "DD always wanted to invest in the future. In the past, we started with Rishabh, Shreyas Iyer when they came from U-19, we invested in them and now they are our key players right now. We are very hopeful with current guys who won the India U-19 World Cup, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Avesh, as many as seven players are around 23 years of age.
With Gautam Gambhir leading the side, Amre said,"We have a good blend of experience and young talented players, which makes it a fearless unit."
"The focus was to invest in players, who have been with us for a long time -- like Shahbaz Nadeem is there for eight years. Jayant (Yadav) is there for three years. In that sense, Gautam coming back to Delhi, I think that is going to help. Naman Ojha also played for Delhi earlier and is coming back. So, all these players already know the culture of DD," he said.
First Published: April 7, 2018, 8:03 PM IST