Labelled the perennial underachievers of the IPL, Delhi Capitals, under the tutelage of Australia legend Ricky Ponting and the leadership of the flamboyant Shreyas Iyer, have improved tremendously in the past couple of years.
Last season, they had a dream run as they dominated the league stage alongside Mumbai Indians and reached their maiden final. Unfortunately, they were unable to go the distance as they stumbled in the summit clash to end runners up.
The Delhi-based franchise was struck with a massive blow even before the tournament began as skipper Iyer dislocated his left shoulder, ruling him out of the tournament. In his absence the flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant will lead the side.
At the auction, DC added three overseas players, including former Australian skipper Steven Smith and the English duo of Tom Curran and Sam Billings, and five domestic players — Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Hussain Meriwala and M Siddharth.
Strength: DC has one of the best assortments of India internationals across formats comprising Prithvi Shaw, Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Ajinkya Rahane.
Shaw is in imperious form having amassed 827 runs from eight matches including four hundreds and a half-century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Shikhar Dhawan also looked in good-nick in the recently concluded ODI series against England while Pant has been sensational in all three formats. They also have Steve Smith, the big-hitting Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer in their ranks.
DC have all bases covered in the spin department with an off-spinner in Ashwin, a left-arm spinner in Axar Patel and leg-spinner in Amit Mishra. It augers well for the team that the two are in scintillating form while Mishra has time and again proved his credibility as an effective wicket-taking wrist spinner in the IPL.
The South African fast bowling duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje bowled over oppositions with their lethal pace last season. They will have the company of England’s World-Cup-winning pacer Chris Woakes and bowling all-rounder Tom Curran.
Weakness: The one area where DC is lacking is the death bowling. Apart from Rabada, who has been sensational for the franchise, they don’t have anyone else to rely on. While Nortje has express speed, he does not have much experience bowling in Indian conditions having played only three matches here and Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma are red-ball specialists.
Also Read – Chennai Super Kings – SWOT Analysis, 2021
Opportunity: A good performance in the IPL is always a boost for an Indian player’s career. However, the lucrative league gains more significance this year as there are two T20 World Cups scheduled in as many years and the tournament could serve as an audition for the players.
It is a great opportunity for the likes of Shaw, Dhawan and Axar to put in good performances and strengthen their cases for a spot in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup.
Threat: Last year, DC’s preferred overseas combination was to play two pacers (Rabada and Nortje), one all-rounder (Stoinis) and Hetmyer. All four players have been retained by the team this year and the coach might not want to tinker with the winning formula. However, Ponting may be tempted to include a world class player like Smith in the playing XI.
DC have some quality all-rounders at their disposal — Stoinis, Woakes, Curran, Axar can contribute to both departments equally. While Stoinis seems like an automatic selection, Woakes and Curran are strong contenders for the spot. Selecting the right playing XI will be a dilemma.
Firing on all cylinders will make DC strong contenders for the title as hardly any team has such a balanced side with extremely talented players at their disposal. However, last season the inexperience of the pace department came to the fore. Rabada and Nortje were completely outplayed by MI in the two league matches, the qualifier as well as the final. If senior bowlers pick up injuries this season, the DC bowling unit could again suffer.
Also Read – Sunrisers Hyderabad – SWOT Analysis, 2021
Squad: Rishabh Pant (captain and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings.