Delhi Capitals: A robust side in a desperate hunt for glory


Delhi Capitals: A robust side in a desperate hunt for glory

Rishi Roy

Delhi Capitals — it’s not their Baptismal name. It’s not even the first IPL franchise with the abbreviation DC (which, by the way, actually won an IPL season). And yet, an IPL title still eludes them. In the fifteen years since its inception, the Delhi-based franchise has transitioned from a team of legends like Sehwag, McGrath and de Villiers, to a side that is “developing”; a side that hasn’t hit its full potential yet. And now, as one of the original “Daredevils” returns to a leadership role, Delhi’s hunt for an IPL title continues.

That being said, the Delhi Capitals have gotten agonisingly close to a title in the recent past. Granted, they failed to qualify in the 2022 season, but with 7 wins and 7 losses, it was a close call. However, rewinding further to 2021 shows us a more interesting insight — Delhi Capitals finished top of the table, with 10 wins in 14 games, giving them two chances to qualify for the final, and they managed to squander both, failing to make the final. In 2020, they made their first ever final, but were overpowered by a rampaging Mumbai Indians side, who gave them no chance. Delhi aren’t underachievers, but they have been bullied by the big boys on the big stage. For the Capitals, the test really begins at the play-off stage.

Where they finished last year: Fifth

What did they try to address in the mini-auction:

Perhaps their biggest foreign buy in the auction, Rilee Roussow, plugs in a potential hole that originates from a rather morbid trend — Mitchell Marsh has had his tryst with injuries over the years, and Roussow is the perfect replacement for him just in case, guaranteeing an explosive top order for the Capitals. Phil Salt is another terrific buy — an explosive opener, in case David Warner’s lean patch continues, and a potential replacement for Rishabh Pant as a wicketkeeper in the same package. He is unlikely to start, given the Indian keeping option of Sarfaraz, but he certainly adds to Delhi’s safety net.

Delhi’s Indian batting bench strength was certainly an issue, and Manish Pandey is a useful inclusion in the side. In fact, either Pandey, or Dhull is likely to be used as an impact player to extend the Capitals’ batting line-up. Moreover, given that Delhi’s foreign pacers are missing the beginning of the IPL, the Indian pacer Mukesh Kumar will likely get a chance to prove himself early on.

Squad/Injuries and availability:

Many a time, the events between the auction and the tournament play a major role. In 2009 and 2020, after the teams had strategised for an IPL in India, fate played a cruel, unfair game, and many a plan was nullified. This time, for the Delhi Capitals, a core member of their side is unavailable due to a horrific accident. As good and complete as the Delhi side looks, the absence of Rishabh Pant leaves an inexplicable hole in the side. In the absence of Pant, the wicketkeeping duties need to be taken up by Manish Pandey, Sarfaraz Khan or Phil Salt.

Three of their overseas fast bowlers are unavailable for the beginning of the tournament: Anrich Nortje, Mustafizur Rahman, and Lungi Ngidi, having prioritised national commitment in a bid to get their national side to the upcoming ICC World Cup in India. This suggests that Delhi will likely go with an all-Indian bowling line-up: Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav, Chetan Sakaria and Mukesh Kumar.

Players to watch:

Sarfaraz Khan- The numbers are ridiculous. So ridiculous, it’s almost irrelevant that a lot of his jaw-dropping numbers are in red-ball cricket. It’s easy to forget that this man had a terrific run with the Royal Challengers Bangalore as a finisher. His last T20 exploits won Mumbai the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, so it’s not like he has a weakness for pressure situation. This could well be the season of Sarfaraz Khan.

Possible XI and potential Impact Player tactic:

Possible XI: David Warner (C), Prithvi Shaw, Mitchell Marsh, Yash Dhull/Rilee Rossouw, Manish Pandey, Sarfaraz Khan, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakaria, Mustafizur Rehman/Khaleel Ahmed

It is easy to be fooled by Delhi’s powerful batting line-up. On a given day, if there happens to be a batting collapse, they have a bowling all-rounder at seven, and four number elevens to follow. It follows that Delhi’s bowling attack is a lot more complete, and their impact player is more likely to be an Indian batsman or all-rounder — perhaps Lalit Yadav or Yash Dhull, in a bid to extend their batting line-up.

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