It has been the most disappointing team in the Indian Premier League (IPL). From semifinals slots in the first two editions (2008 and 2009) and a playoffs honour in 2012, Delhi Daredevils, renamed Delhi Capitals, finished at the bottom of the table in 2018. The disastrous performances of Delhi Capitals have been much contrary to the expectations of the experts even though the team made it to the playoffs in 2019.
A team that boasted of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Glenn McGrath, Mohammad Asif and Daniel Vettori in the inaugural season, and added the likes of A. B. de Villiers and David Warner in the tournament played in South Africa in 2009, Delhi Capitals has let its supporters down by not figuring in the final even once.
DC coach Ricky Ponting described the change in his team’s approach nicely. “Oh look, I just remember how much fun the whole season was last year. We all wanted to make it feel like a fresh start for everybody. New name — Delhi Capitals. So that’s the way we went about it, you know. A totally fresh start, forgetting about the past and trying to create our own culture and our own environment where players were having fun and enjoying themselves,” he was quoted by the DC website.
The change was refreshing. The players approached the job with freedom, so different from the 2018 season when the team gave its worst performance of the IPL. Gautam Gambhir returning to the team proved disastrous and he withdrew from contention after five innings fetched him a mere 85 runs. His failure hurt DC even though Rishabh Pant emerged as the star with an aggregate of 684 (one century and five half centuries). The team has since embarked on a journey which aims to culminate with a title.
Even before a ball has been bowled, DC suffered when Chris Woakes pulled out of the tournament to devote more time to England and his family. The team, however, seemed to have gained from the inclusion of Jason Roy, but unfortunately the Englishman withdrew due to personal reasons and was replaced by Daniel Sams of Australia. The presence of Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer and Alex Carey, not to forget the experienced Ajinkya Rahane and R. Ashwin, should prove rich additions to the team. Kagiso Rabada gained from the postponed league as he recovered from an injury.
Head coach Ricky Ponting gives some tips to bowlers Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra during a practice session. Ponting is looking forward to DC coming up with its best-ever IPL show. – Sandeep Saxena
It is its batting that should serve DC in this edition. Led by Pant, who has the ability to swing the match on his individual strength, DC would make the most of batsmen like Shreyas Iyer and Prithvi Shaw. Iyer has made rapid progress as a batsman of awesome capacity to dominate the bowlers while Shaw would be the prime threat to all bowlers in the tournament.
Shaw’s range of shots and Iyer’s confidence in the middle can lay the platform for Rahane and Dhawan to build their challenge even as the team management expects Sandeep Lamichhane, the leg-spinner from Nepal, to play a leading role with his reputation to look for wickets and not bowl a restrictive line. Amit Mishra and Axar Patel bring added quality to the spin department.
The challenge for Ponting would be to extract potential performances from the players who form a complete winning package on paper. Iyer, the young captain, evokes confidence with his approach and a lot would depend on how he marshals the resources, especially the foreign imports.
Would this be the season that DC has waited for? “I still think back that at different times it felt like we were the best team in the tournament,” was how Ponting reflected on the 2019 season. There are enough reasons for him to relive the experience and look forward to DC coming up with its best-ever IPL show.
The squad: Shreyas Iyer (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant, Alex Carey, Harshal Patel, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Avesh Khan, Anrich Nortje, Marcus Stoinis, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Lalit Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Tushar Deshpande.
Top three run-getters
|Batsman||Seasons||Runs||Matches||Hundreds||Fifties||Highest score||Average||Strike rate|
Top three wicket-takers
|Bowler||Seasons||Wickets||Matches||Four-wicket hauls||Best bowling||Average||Economy rate|
|R. Ashwin||2009-16, 2018-19||125||139||1||4/34||26.48||6.79|
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