'Inconsistency' has been the synonym for Delhi Capitals (DC) batting unit this season. In their pursuit to book an IPL final berth for the first time in the history, Capitals suffered a batting debacle against Mumbai Indians (MI) on Thursday in the first Qualifier. While hunting a dominant 200-run total at Dubai, the Delhi batting unit shattered like a stack of cards, losing their three wickets in the first eight deliveries.
Failing to shine when it mattered most, Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane scored ducks while enduring an in-form Trent Boult in the first over. What followed was Shikhar Dhawan registering his third duck of IPL 2020 in the next over. Despite notching up consecutive IPL hundreds, it has been an abysmal season for Dhawan.
He fell off Jasprit Bumrah's delivery to scrawl an embarrassing batting record to his name. With the scoreboard reading 0/3 at 1.2 overs, the victory already seemed like a distant dream for Shreyas Iyer's brigade.
Prithvi Shaw's torrid run
Marcus Stonis' 65 off 46 and Axar Patel 33-ball 42 did raise hopes of DC fans but it wasn't enough to tackle the soaring required rate. The Delhi side ultimately posted 143 runs on the scoreboard, missing out on a glaring opportunity to cruise into the final.
The fickleness of the top-order batting unit has been a major concern for the Delhi-based franchise. Though Dhawan is among the leading run-scorers of the tournament, his recent batting exploits say otherwise. After smashing unbeaten consecutive hundreds, it has been been a disheartening journey for the left-hander.
In his last five games, Dhawan has managed to score just 60 runs, taking his average to 12 -- needless to say is underwhelming when his side is eyeing the IPL trophy after achieving the top-two finish. In 15 games this season, Dhawan has scored 525 runs at an impressive average of 43.75. However, going by his recent batting shows, the Delhi side wouldn't be totally relying on him to deliver in the do-or-die encounter in the second Qualifier.
Talking about his ally, Prithvi Shaw, it has rather been a forgetful season for the youngster. Like Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw also has garnered three ducks in the on-going season. The right-hander's scores in last eight innings read -- 19, 4, 0, 0, 7, 10, 9 and 0. Struggling to get going, Shaw's footwork has been shambolic on UAE wickets. He hasn't been able to take up responsibility and put up worthy performances so far, fair to say that his UAE journey has ended.
Ajinkya Rahane's humdrum work
Talking about the third option for DC -- Ajinkya Rahane -- it has been an in-and-out season for the veteran. His offbeat season started with him getting sidelined from the starting squad. He ultimately broke into the Playing XI but has scored only one stellar knock so far. Rahane's 60 came against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) when DC needed two crucial points to secure a top-two finish. Though his half-century came at a crucial situation, his performances in other games have been mediocre. Joining the Shaw-Dhawan club, Rahane also has two ducks to his name this season.
Amid the top-order conundrum, Capitals might take a risk which might pay off. Stoinis -- their third-highest run-scorer -- can be slotted at the opening slot in place of Shaw or Rahane. While Dhawan is expected to be a part of DC's plans, the future of Shaw is in the doldrums. If Ponting decides to slot in Harshal Patel in place of Shaw, Stoinis can be pushed up top to provide them with a robust start.
Stoinis and I share great chemistry: Dhawan
With his ability to clear the ball with ease, Stoinis can withstand the SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) bowling force in the powerplay. The right-hander's recent exploits in the Big Bash League (BBL) is a testament to his batting prowess.
|Marcus Stoinis in BBL 2019/20||Innings||Runs||Strike-rate||Average||High score|
|Marcus Stoinis in IPL 2020||Innings||Runs||Strike-rate||Half-centuries||Wickets|
Stoinis was in red-hot form in this year's BBL, scoring 705 runs including six half-centuries and an exceptional 147 against Sydney Sixers, the highest-ever individual score in the tournament's history. Following a record-breaking season, Stoinis has been rated highly by many experts. Though he hasn't hit an IPL century yet, Stoinis' 65 off 46 against MI was enough to prove his batting credentials. He already has three half-centuries in the on-going IPL edition and him donning the opener's hat will surely be worth a shot.
“I think the support staff thought about Stoinis but they didn’t discuss it with me that much. If I get the opportunity to open with him, for sure it’ll be great. But both Stoinis and I share great chemistry, we joke a lot, so it will be good fun”, Dhawan had told media before the last match against Mumbai Indians (MI). To reinvent their perishing batting force, DC might shift their focus on Stoinis. Considering the potent SRH bowling unit, Delhi might also include Shimron Hetymyer in their artillery.
While Dhawan has notched up 525 runs this year, Stoinis has scored 314 runs from 15 games at an impressive strike-rate of 150.23. With two half-centuries under his belt, there's a strong possibility of seeing Stoinis with Dhawan up top. SRH's punt to open with Wriddhiman Saha was nothing short of an overhaul. Taking a cue from the opposition, Ponting might take a leap in the dark and slap the opener's tag on Stoinis.