Since the inception of the Indian Premier League, the Delhi franchise has been the one which had almost always shown promise on the paper. Over the years, the side has boasted of a plethora of star players – but the Delhi Capitals could never do justice to the immense talent they’ve had in the tournament so far.
Poor decisions from management, and equally disappointing decision-making on the field held Delhi from ever realizing its full potential in an IPL season. It was a tiresome loop for their fans – Hope and Despair.
However, the 2019 season brought a fresh breath of air – or, in this case, a fresh breath of Iyer. A change in captaincy in the middle of the 2018 season saw a relatively young Shreyas Iyer replacing two-time IPL winning skipper Gautam Gambhir. The previous edition was the first full season in-charge for Iyer, and saw the franchise changing its identity with new investments, new backroom staff and a new name.
The Daredevils were burnt, and the Capitals were born from its ashes.
The 2019 IPL had been a reckoning for the Delhi Capitals. The side’s campaign in the Indian Premier League might have ended in the play-off stages with a loss to Chennai Super Kings - but the season was far from being a disappointment. On the contrary, it felt more satisfactory than the one in 2012, when Delhi (then Delhi Daredevils) last reached the final four – simply because the idea, backed by years of meticulous planning, was finally forming a shape.
If the Capitals in 2019 showed that there are here for the long run, the side in 2020 needs to go a step ahead, and pose the challenge for the title.
A perfect blend of Young and Old
Last season, Delhi Capitals boasted of few of the finest Indian young talents in players like Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and captain Shreyas Iyer in the top-4. Kagiso Rabada shined throughout the season in the bowling attack, ending with 25 wickets in 12 matches. While these players stepped up more often than not, the Capitals missed the advantage of experienced players in leadership roles.
This season, however, the side is bolstered with the arrivals of veteran Indian cricketers like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane. Both have captained in the Indian Premier League in the past and bring with them plethora of experience from their time in franchise and international cricket.
The presence of such experienced cricketers allows for advanced leadership qualities on the field, which would be of tremendous help to Shreyas Iyer. At the same time, it would also help the youngsters in understanding their roles better.
Let’s delve into the specifics in the Delhi Capitals squad – the pros, and the cons.
With the arrival of Shimron Hetmyer and Ajinkya Rahane, DC has a number of batsmen to choose from in the top order – even as Jason Roy pulled out of the tournament. The problem of plenty, however, is not the biggest dilemma for Ricky Ponting’s side. The issue comes in the lower-middle order, where the Capitals lack the presence of a proven finisher.
The duo of Stoinis and Carey is unlikely to play together, and both are currently backed to play as finishers for Australia in the T20I setup. However, they remain unproven in the role. In the auction last year, Delhi continued to bolster the top-order with the likes of Hetmyer, Roy and Rahane, but failed to address the lower-middle order where the concerns over finishing remain. Last year, Keemo Paul and Axar Patel were the two players in the role, who often left the fans and experts demanding for more.
Another option for Delhi Capitals is Lalit Yadav, the uncapped player who is one of the all-rounders in the side. While he offers an extra spin option, the Capitals sail in the same boat with his batting in the lower-middle order, as his ability to finish remains largely untested.
This may also force the Capitals to play Rishabh Pant at number five this season, and ease him into the role. It will be interesting to see how this move pays if it happens at all, as Pant has been brilliant for the franchise at number four over the years.
With Kagiso Rabada leading the pace attack, the slow and spinning pitches in the UAE may come as a blessing in disguise for DC, who boast of a number of quality spinners in the squad. With the arrival of Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-spinner is likely to lead the spin bowling attack which includes IPL veteran Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichhane.
The Capitals may miss the services of Chris Woakes, however, who pulled out of the tournament citing personal reasons. However, the pace attack still stands strong with the likes of Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Anrich Nortje in the squad.
Ideal playing XI:
Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel/Lalit Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra/Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Sandeep Lamichhane
The Delhi Capitals has all the bases covered except for the finisher’s role. With time, Ricky Ponting and co. will likely find a way around the same, though. In other departments, the Capitals look stronger than ever. Their batting order looks mighty strong on paper, and the presence of quality spinners in bowling attack gives them an extra edge over a number of other franchises. Delhi Capitals look strong in contention for a play-off spot, and if all goes well, they can also be the contenders for the title.