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Eric Simons, the Delhi Daredevils assistant coach, has said his main aim would be to ensure a finals spot for his side in the third season of the IPL. Having made the semi-finals in the two previous editions, Delhi choked against eventual winners Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers respectively.

Simons, who is also India's bowling coach, strongly suggested that a rotation policy was a key strategy to ensure his players' freshness for the big games. "The key is to peak at the right time and we need to find ways for that," Simons told the Hindustan Times. "Rotating the players will play a key role."

He also gave his full backing to new captain Gautam Gambhir, who took over from Virender Sehwag, and said he should have no problems with the rotation policy. "He's [Gambhir's] a mature and clear-thinking individual," Simons said. "He has got no ego and is the perfect man to lead. Captaincy is all about taking information from others and making the right decisions and he will be able to do that."

Simons, 48, served as South Africa's head coach from 2002-2004 and later held various capacities at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. He also has some coaching experience in the IPL, having worked as a consultant with Ray Jennings last year for Royal Challengers Bangalore when the tournament moved to South Africa.

He will be assisting Greg Shipperd, having filled the position left vacant by Australia's David Saker on March 3 this year, and focus on working with the large bunch of young bowlers in the Delhi squad. However, Simons said he has not had much time with the local players for the tournament beginning March 12. "I haven't seen the local players yet. I think, after three or four nets, I should get an idea."

For a team boasting many international stars - Dirk Nannes, Paul Collingwood, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Daniel Vettori, Farveez Maharoof, David Warner, AB de Villiers, Moises Henriques, Andrew McDonald and new purchase Wayne Parnell - the choice of playing four players from the contingent could be tough.

"That is where the balancing act needs to be done," Simons told Mail Today. "It is important to manage international players. We have to make sure our top players are not jaded and, hopefully, this time we can manage that. At the moment, everyone is fit and raring to go. It is going to be an arduous six weeks of the tournament and we are hoping to keep everyone on the field. This is where the role of the backroom staff will be very important."

The pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi's home ground, has come under criticism in the recent past. The abandonment of the fifth ODI between India and Sri Lanka in December last year, resulted in a one-year international ban from the ICC. However, the venue will host IPL matches as the tournament, being a domestic one, is out of the global governing body's purview.

"We had a practice match last night where one team scored 200 and the other got really close," Simons said. "There were a few occasions when batsmen were hitting length balls over the bowlers' heads, which I always believe to be a fair indicator of how good a pitch is.

"The surface seems kind of cold, so I think they have left some moisture on the surface which is helping it stay together. We had played on another wicket a few days ago and that had seemed slower, so it is getting better for sure."

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