Daredevils have always come up with a renewed cast every two years but the same old plot has also continued to harass them on the big stage, time and again. However, with numerous players available in the market now, the franchise could finally hope to uplift their sagging fortunes this time around.
The auction and the team formation dynamics in the Indian Premier League have always boiled down to how better a team can spend their money intelligently. Delhi, despite signing some good T20 players of the generation, have always seemed to fall a tad short on experience. At the same time though, the squad had also packed a lot of promise. Their batting reserves boasted of some of the country's finest talents and the pace unit have also been well stocked up in the player auction. While their bowling seemed to be one of the finest in the tournament, Daredevils were marred by their batting failures that majorly stemmed from an ever-expanding list of injuries, inexperience, tactical blunders, and inconsistency.
So, ahead of the auction, logic dictates that the franchise will first secure the services of big names and the ones who could guarantee them success in the league. They have players like Chris Morris, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Iyer, and Rishabh Pant. But as per the law of the IPL, one team can retain a maximum of two overseas players and that makes the Delhi retention a tricky affair.
Who should they retain?
Quinton de Kock:
It is a no-brainer. Although the South African wicket-keeper pulled out of the last edition of the league due to a broken finger, his worth is still immeasurable in context of Delhi Daredevils. De Kock is not just a brilliant batsman but has also been one of the finest wicket-keepers around of late. His presence can give a boost to the batting line-up, which would allow the Daredevils think-tank to form a core team around him. Although at some quarter, there might have some call for Sam Billings, de Kock has been a complete package and his retention is almost a given.
It might seem baffling, but that is what the case is. In 2016, the GMR-owned franchise broke the bank to get Iyer's signature on the dotted line and the right-hander repaid the faith with some stirring display over the last two seasons. Alongside Mayank Agarwal, he has formed a lethal pair for the team and has often proved his worth as a livewire on the field as well. Iyer, who recently made his India debut, is capable of blending classical shots with brute force and his attacking instincts will be a huge boost for the side who, even after 10 years of existence, are still searching for their soul.
In a long league like the IPL franchises are always expected to give impact players more leeway than they would get in any other format. They are not paid big bucks for consistency but for impact and remember when Chris Morris has a day, he can blow any reputation to smithereens. He can bowl like a proper pacer, can leak runs at will and still can pull off blinders that would make Jonty Rhodes proud. Last year, Morris was at his brutal best, striking at over 150 for whatever little IPL 2017 could see of him.
The alternate opinion for RTM
Not retaining Pant might be a very hard decision for the Delhi-based franchise, but one thing is for sure that they will have to wait to acquire his services through RTM card. Pant has been a brilliant prospect for the Indian team of late and his dedication towards the game has never been in doubt, as despite losing his father mid-way of the IPL, he flew to Bangalore to participate in his next IPL game and scored a fighting half-century. Don’t be surprised if Delhi offer him the captaincy role as well. Along with Pant, Mohammed Shami might be the second best option. Last year, Zaheer Khan led the bowling attack with Morris and Pat Cummins and formed a formidable seam trio with Shami and Rabada as backup options. But Shami may have to spearhead the attack this time around and going by his form, it is not a bad idea at all.
How logical the policy is
Delhi’s problems have always been attributed to their lack of imaginative approach while forming the team. Their relentless chopping and changing in 2016 cost them big time and their stubbornness in 2017 proved to be dangerous. In a format as fickle as T20 cricket, it is not at all advisable to not improvise on the go. But with a good enough retention players on the list – this is actually a rational list rather than emotional – they can finally hope for some good signings during the mega-auction.