IPL will help in T20 World Cup preparation, says Sam Billings

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File photo of Sam Billings.

England wicket-keeper batsman Sam Billings feels the upcoming IPL will be good preparation for the T20 World Cup later this year but conceded that he will get limited game time due to the “phenomenal” competition in the Delhi Capitals’ squad.

The 29-year-old was bought by Delhi Capitals for Rs 2 crore at the mini-auction last month.

“You look at the squad that Delhi have, and especially the overseas options: you could go with any combination and it would be a successful one,” Billings told ‘ESPNCricinfo’.

“The competition for places is phenomenal: they obviously got to the final last year, so game time might be limited, but it comes back to the point of preparing for a World Cup and giving myself the best chance in these conditions to prepare for that,” he added.

Delhi, who finished runners up in the previous edition, are spoilt for choice in the overseas players department.

Last year, their go-to combination was South African pacers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and big-hitting West Indian Shimron Hetmyer.

This year they have added former Australian skipper Steve Smith, England’s Tom Curran and Billings into the squad.

Billings, who was part of the Delhi franchise in 2016 and 2017 as well, recalled the first time he got a glimpse of the flamboyant Indian wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant.

“With Pant, I played with him for 2 years when I was in Delhi. I turned to Rahul Dravid and asked ‘who is this kid?’

“He was smacking Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Morris, Rabada everywhere in the open net.

“I was just thinking ‘this is unbelievable!’ and that year he lit up. It’s been great to see him evolve as a cricketer and to be in the same team as him again would be great,” Billings said.

The right-handed batsman from Kent is eager to team up with India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel, who snared 32 and 27 wickets respectively in the recently-concluded Test series against England.

“Facing those two spinners in the nets is one of the great things about the IPL, and other franchise competitions.

“(If) you face these guys day in, day out in testing conditions, you’re going to get better – it’s impossible not to. That’s a huge plus point…I’ll be writing a few notes about a few different cricketers that I see about,” he added.

This year’s IPL begins with a match between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai on April 9 with the final scheduled to be played on May 30 in Ahmedabad.

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