Delhi are the only IPL franchise yet to reach an IPL final. That’s a damning fact you would want to look away to if you are Ricky Ponting.
The closest they have reached was finishing third thrice- in 2009, 2012 and 2019.
Over the years, the side has boasted of a plethora of star players – but the Delhi Capitals could never do justice to the immense talent they’ve had, something that head-coach Ricky Ponting would’ve jotted down in his notes. For Ponting, the biggest challenge is to mould a bunch of talented cricketers in a winning machine-a task easier said than done.
However, the new season offers them another chance to put an end to their poor history. The team management assembled a team that is a mix of youth and experience.
The team, rechristened in 2018 from Delhi Daredevils for change of fortunes, did put up an impressive show, but in order to go all the way, only talent is not sufficient and Delhi Capitals believe they’ve got in them what it takes to go all the way this time around.
Delhi team’s batting unit
An embarrassment of riches. If one had to sum up the Delhi Capitals’ batting strength, that is exactly how one would feel.
Their top six of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Hetmyer, Rishabh Pant and Stoinis is among the strongest Twenty20 (T20) batting units you could come across. The inclusion of Hetmyer and Stoinis could address the lower-middle-order problems it faced last season when both Colin Munro and Colin Ingram failed to fire with the bat.
Come to think of it, the prospect of Ajinkya Rahane not making the starting XI of the team speaks volumes of its strength in depth.
The problem of plenty, however, is not the biggest dilemma for Ricky Ponting’s side. Despite such a healthy line-up, one area where the Capitals might be found out is the lower-middle order, where they lack the presence of a proven finisher.
The franchise also have interesting additions in the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey, who are both options for both top and lower order. In Shaw and Pant, they still possess the most enviable next-gen Indian batting talent.
The duo of Stoinis and Alex Carey is unlikely to play together, and both are currently backed to play as finishers for Australia in the T20I setup. However, they largely remain unproven in the role.
This may also force the Capitals to play Rishabh Pant at number five this season, and ease him into the role. It will be interesting to see how this move pays if it happens at all, as Pant has been brilliant for the franchise at number four over the years.
In Shimron Hetmyer, they have a better bet against spin than Sherfane Rutherford.
Not long till we see our DC stars with the big hits and the wickets in the Dubai International Stadium 🤩
— Delhi Capitals (Tweeting from 🇦🇪) (@DelhiCapitals) September 16, 2020
Delhi’s impressive bowlers
Coach Ricky Ponting and skipper Shreyas Iyer have to do a lot of thinking before picking the best playing 11. In fact, Delhi Capitals is the only side in this season who won’t be that much bothered by slow and sticky UAE wickets.
In R Ashwin, they have a strike-spinner of repute, backed up by the pace battery of Kagiso Rabada and Ishant Sharma.
Ashwin is also someone who can possibly guide the bowlers standing at mid-on or mid-off and in pressure situations, can be the sounding board that a young captain like Iyer would want by his side.
Spinners are set to play a crucial role and the Capitals boast of one of the strong spin bowling departments. In Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichhane, the options are plenty for Iyer at his disposal.
Rabada will once again be Iyer’s go-to man because of his raw pace, accuracy and ability to strike at crucial intervals. The 25-year-old South African’s fitness, however, remains a concern. He missed a few IPL games in 2019 with a back niggle.
From bagging a wooden spoon in 2018 to performing outstandingly well the following season, DC are on track to forming a formidable outfit. Another top-3 finish is surely on the cards.
If the Capitals last year showed that there are here for the long run, the side in 2020 needs to go a step ahead, and pose the challenge for the title.