They are the IPL team with most wooden spoons (four), they have won only one match in the playoffs and yet to reach the final. Well, if you are a follower of the Indian Premier League, you can easily guess that team. It is Delhi Capitals (Daredevils, earlier).
Among the current IPL teams, Delhi Capitals have the least win percentage (42.93 %) and the least win-loss ratio (0.78). In the period from 2013 to 2018, the Delhi-based franchise didn’t qualify for the playoffs even once and finished the tournament at the last position in three seasons. However, the tables turned for them drastically last year when they qualified for the playoffs with nine victories.
What changed for them?
A Young Squad:
The mega-auction for the IPL 2018 was a turning point for them. Before the auction, they retained three players as per rule – Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris. Morris, who’s a T20 specialist, was expected retention. However, their decision to retain Pant and Iyer highlighted a thing or two. They wanted to build a young side and define the brand of cricket, they wanted to play.
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In the auction, the franchise recruited four players who had an age less than 20 years (at that point in time) – Prithvi Shaw, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma and Sandeep Lamichhane; and they had already retained Pant who also falls in the same category. In the final squad of Delhi, there were as many as ten players who had an age of fewer than 25 years.
Gautam Gambhir was the captain of the side at the beginning of the season. However, Gambhir resigned from captaincy after a few matches and Iyer was handed the leadership job. It showed Delhi Capitals’ faith in the youngsters.
Reaped rewards in 2019:
Despite revamping their squad, Delhi Capitals didn’t achieve good results in 2018 as they finished at the bottom of the points table. However, they performed well in IPL 2019. The young army shone in away matches better as compared to that in the home matches. In 2019, they strengthened their batting unit by acquiring the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Colin Ingram. Whilst Ingram didn’t live up to the expectations (12 matches, 18.40 average and 119.48 SR), Dhawan top-scored for Delhi.
Ricky Ponting had a part to play in the success of the opening batsman. Ponting asked Dhawan to improve his intent which helped the southpaw as well as the team. After Ponting’s comment, Dhawan scored with a strike rate of about 142, which was about 113 before Ponting’s comment.
Kagiso Rabada was the star for Delhi Capitals in his second IPL edition. Averaging 14.72 in 12 matches, the right-arm pacer snared 25 wickets with a strike rate of 11.28 and an effective economy of less than eight.
Delhi Capitals had issues in their lower-middle-order, however, they did a fine job overall as a team.
With all the flaws in the auction and other things, what Delhi Capitals did the best was investing in the young talents. Iyer, as a number three batsman, adds a decent value to the team. Rishabh Pant has been arguably the best Indian batsman in the past three seasons of the IPL.
They got Kagiso Rabada for just 4.2 crore INR in the mega-auction for IPL 2018. And, the pacer was breathing fire in the IPL 2019. The second-highest wicket-taker in the tournament snared 25 wickets, striking about twice per match. Among the hundred fastest balls in IPL 2019, Rabada bowled 34 deliveries – the highest for any bowler.
Prithvi Shaw, a U-19 star, was acquired by Delhi Capitals in 2018. However, the youngster hasn’t returned the best results so far. Anyway, Shaw does have skills and an excellent intent required for the T20 format.
Avesh Khan and Sandeep Lamichhane are also two youngsters who have talent. However, the best of them is yet to come.
Delhi Capitals also got Shimron Hetmyer in the auction for IPL 2020. The 23-year-old doesn’t boast of great numbers in his international T20 career and has below-par numbers in all the forms of T20 cricket. Anyway, the world knows about his skills. Thus, Delhi Capitals have invested in another youngster.
Delhi Capital’s issue was their lower-middle-order last year and they don’t seem to have sorted that out with rock-solid options. They bought Jason Roy (who is now replaced by Anrich Nortje), Shimron Hetmyer, Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis in the auction for IPL 2020. Hetmyer generally bats in the top four. Carey is a reserve wicket-keeper and is generally an opener in this format. Thus, it won’t be a great move to slot him in the lower-middle-order.
The deck at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi was on the slower side in the IPL last year, Thus, to, utilise that, they recruited Ravichandran Ashwin and Lalit Yadav. Ashwin and Lalit will join Axar Patel, Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichhane in DC’s squad. The spin contingent will aid them in UAE.
As of now, Shaw, Iyer, Hetmyer and Pant don’t have a lot of experience, however, they have the potential. Shaw’s intent is lovely, Hetmyer is a fantastic striker of the ball and Pant, well, everyone knows about his exploits in the IPL. Dhawan upped his strike rate in the last season and will try to do the same in the next edition. However, if their first choice overseas players (most importantly Rabada) don’t take part or fail to step up in the next edition of the IPL, Delhi Capitals would be in quite some soup.