Delhi. The capital of India. It’s hosted more Commonwealth Games than the number of IPL trophies the city has seen be lifted by their side.
Over 12 editions, Delhi remains the only IPL side who has never reached the final, let alone win it. A change of name from Delhi Daredevils to Delhi Capitals and a quality coach in Ricky Ponting has seemed to have slowly changed their past misfortunes.
The real question that remains is whether they’ll be able to break the mental barrier and lift the franchise’s first-ever title.
Batsmen: Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Roy
Keepers: Alex Carey, Rishabh Pant
All-rounders: Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Harshal Patel, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul
Seamers: Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande
Spinners: Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane
How they fared in 2019: third
The Capitals had a bit of a stop-start season, winning five out of their first nine games before winning four of their last five games. Unfortunately for the Capitals, they would miss out on a top-two spot to Mumbai and Chennai on net run rate. They would defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad in a vintage T20 game in the Eliminator, before losing the second qualifier to Chennai.
Strengths: batting, spinners
One thing that seems to be in Delhi’s DNA for the past few years is to give young Indian batsmen a go. This had led to the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw to don the Indian colours in red-ball or white-ball cricket. But these youngsters need guidance and Delhi have bought smartly, trading in Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane in the past two seasons whose experience in international cricket will be beneficial for the likes of Prithvi Shaw and co. Throw in two quality white-ball batsmen in Jason Roy and Shimron Hetmyer and Delhi have a formidable batting line-up and strong depth.
The surfaces provided for IPL matches at the Arun Jaitley Stadium (formerly known as Feroz Shah Kotla) slightly aid the spinners more than the seamers. Amit Mishra has spent many years playing for Delhi in his IPL days and has delivered for the franchise many times. In Delhi, Mishra has taken approximately 36 per cent of his career IPL wickets including a five-for.
His spin partner Sandeep Lamichhane is probably the best of the spin attack with the ability to bowl in all stages of a T20 game and his control with his variations. The young sensation from Nepal will be playing in his third season of IPL and this will be his breakthrough season as he’s good enough to be their front-line spinner in all of their games. Add the all-rounders in Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel and Delhi should be a formidable side at home with a strong batting unit and a spin-dominated pitch.
Weakness: seam attack
Chris Woakes was bought by the Capitals in the IPL auction. However, the player has decided to skip the IPL to be fit for England’s home summer. Kagiso Rabada is racing against the clock to be fit for the Capitals as he’s nursing a groin injury. Unless the Capitals manage to replace the two stars with quality international bowlers, the Delhi seam attack will look pretty thin and bleak on paper. A lot will rest on the shoulders of Ishant Sharma, Mohit Sharma, and youngster Avesh Khan. Whether they step up to the task or not will be a question that can be answered throughout the season.
Predicted XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Rishabh Pant (keeper), Alex Carey, Marcus Stoinis, Keemo Paul, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sandeep Lamichhane, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan
Delhi bought well this auction and have some quality white-ball cricketers. But circumstances have led to the loss of Chris Woakes, and Kagiso Rabada remains under the injury cloud. If these situations are not dealt with properly, a poor pace attack is tough to make playoffs with. While they won’t finish last, the Capitals are more likely to have an average season finishing fifth or sixth.