With 8 days to IPL, Delhi Daredevils’ hopes and hunger this year, will be higher with the comeback of Gautam Gambhir and appointment of Ricky Ponting as coach. This year DD is surely looking like a team to beat. They look pretty balanced from the overall perspective too, with alternatives available for every slot.
Looking at the team, their bowling department is as strong as their batting, with the likes of Rabada, Boult, Shami, and Morris leading the charge of seaming department, I would say, they are hierarchically balanced, with so many options available in the spin wing. With Amit Mishra, the most experienced and successful leg-spinner in IPL history, DD also have Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, and Tewatia to offer help in that department. Looking at the batting division of DD, having Gambhir, Roy, Munro, Maxwell, Iyer, Pant I would say DD opted the right set of young talent in the form of Prithvi Shaw, the upcoming Sachin Tendulkar as people are calling him, who had a very good stint at U19 WC and the hero of the final game of the U19 WC, Manjot Kalra. Though I would love to see both in playing XI having an exposure to some great players up against them, I doubt if they would be getting chances. With Morris already proving himself an asset to the team with ability to click 150kph and to play real quick as we saw last year, I guess DD should and would stick with him as their main all-rounder this year too, with few games here and there going to either of the two, Rabada and Boult, to rest Morris. Also in Vijay Shankar, they have provided themselves an Indian alternative to Morris, though not as capable as Morris, but in a case, they want either Munro and Roy to play together for games they want to solidify their batting, or, Rabada and Boult to strengthen their bowling. If you ask me, I think you’d see more of Harshal Patel bowling in death, going by his performance in RCB.
The dilemma for DD, I feel is going to be, who’d be opening with Gauti. With Munro being in superb form, It surely is going to be a tricky situation for Gambhir choosing either of both, Munro and Roy, as both would be racing for the opening slot. Though Roy may get chance up there with Gauti, for right-left combination, Munro would be the choice if we go with recent form, but I doubt if Gauti would give importance to left-right combo as we saw Narine, a left-hander, opening with him in few games last year. So, I would say Gauti & Ricky would have to choose Munro over Roy. After opening pair I think Rishabh Pant would be seen batting at number three, as Gambhir clearly mentioned somewhere recently that Pant would offer best returns batting in top 3. At 4, it has to be Maxwell, which from my point of view is going to be the game changer for Delhi. Also with Ricky’s affinity to and understanding of Maxwell, I feel it’s going to be the highlights of this IPL, how he will be handling him in order to yield maximum from Maxi. With Iyer at 5, I think would make the core of DD’s batting. After that, we would see Morris/Shankar as an all-rounder. At 7 we might see Kalra sometimes in case Nadeem or Tewatia wouldn’t be there. Rest 4 for me would be made of Rabada, Shami, Harshal, and Mishra, with a glimpse of Avesh khan here and there for Harshal.
To conclude I would say that DD would be a better team as compared to last years if they don’t commit their prime mistake of not playing their core consistently, and trying too many things different. It has been their problem for a couple of years that they start well in the tournament and then suddenly they do something different, playing youngsters, though which is not bad, in terms of their growth as cricketers, it also takes away the momentum of the team and also to think it from team’s perspective and lots of fans longing to see their team win, I think Delhi has overdone this at times in previous years, and they shouldn’t be following this henceforth. If they are able to follow this, I guess they may create wonders this year though we would have to wait to see what future would bring to DD. Also, player to watch out for, from my perspective, would be Maxwell and would surely be keen to see Munro against Bhuvi to take the battle forward.
Tentative Playing XI: 1. Gautam Gambhir 2. Colin Munro 3. Rishabh Pant 4. Glenn Maxwell 5. Shreyas Iyer
6. Chris Morris/Vijay Shankar 7. Shahbaz Nadeem/ Rahul Tewatia 8. Kagiso Rabada 9. Mohd. Shami 10. Harshal Patel
11. Amit Mishra