Delhi 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 quality available in the auction now, Delhi could finally hope to uplift their sagging fortunes this time around.
The team formation dynamics in the Indian Premier League have always boiled down to how intelligently a team can spend their money and how they can snap a player they need with minimal amount possible. Delhi, despite signing some of the best T20 players of the generation,
Delhi Daredevils decided to go for substance rather than flash and retained Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant ahead of the mega-auction. With a new season beginning, with a bunch of world-class players available in the market, the franchise will try to snap some good batsmen as well as trying to keep their talented pacers by using the RTM as well as the purchase option.
Players Retained: Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris
Purse available: Rs 47 crores
What they need to eye at the auction
Despite being KKR’s all-time leading run-getter and leading the team to two IPL titles, the Kolkata-based franchise decided not to retain Gautam Gambhir for the 11th edition of the IPL. However, it is worth-noting that Gambhir’s tactical nous as a T20 skipper is second to none and a perennially muddled GMR-owned franchise could easily be benefitted from the same. The Delhi Ranji player can even open with Iyer, who has 807 runs in 32 games for Daredevils so far and that’s why it is hugely likely that DD will try hard to get Gambhir back, once again, even if that cost them more than 5 crores. While they might get advised to sign one of Evin Lewis or Colin Munro, it will be wise for them to go all out for Gambhir first who can be the knight in the shining armour for them.
On the flipside, should KKR decide to retain their skipper – they can still go on to retain their star wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock to open the innings alongside Iyer. 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 can form a lethal core alongside Gambhir, Iyer, and Pant. Expect a bid of 7 crores for the Proteas batsman, and even then the franchise will have a total of almost 35 crores balance to make the team. Reserve three crores for an uncapped Indian, who will potentially have a good day.
With Ricky Ponting taking over as the coach of the franchise, you except an Australian touch to the team. This year BBL’s two big-impact batsmen, D'Arcy Short and Alex Carey may attract attention from the franchise. While Short is the BBL's leading run-getter with 504 runs from nine games, and Carey is placed second with 400. Now, their batting being completely sorted, the franchise can go for a couple of youngsters to fill the slot. Uncapped Indians such as Mayank Agarwal, India Under 19 stars Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, or Delhi's Nitish Rana are other names Daredevils could bid for with a maximum purse of five crores.
Daredevils' home ground, the Feroz Shah Kotla has always been a slow and low wicket and it needs medium-pacers and spinners to do well. And at the moment, who better than a wrist-spinner, who bowls leg-breaks and googlies without spinning them much – Rashid Khan? Players found it hard to read the Afghanistan leg-spinner’s deceptive pace. If Sunrisers decided to retain him through RTM card, then the franchise can do well to go for Kuldeep Yadav, who is not expected to be purchased by KKR given Eden Gardens has become more of a pace-friendly wicket since the wicket was re-laid. The New Zealand pair of Ish Sodhi, who is the No 1 bowler in T20Is at the moment, and Mitchell Santner have low base prices and DD may target them at the auction.
Daredevils have always chased exciting pace bowlers and last year, stacked their line-up with some brilliant bowlers from all around the world. While they are expected to purchase Mohammed Shami back to spearhead the line-up, they may well go for rookie South African quick Lungi Ngidi or uncapped West Indian Jofra Archer who has the BBL stage on fire. Pat Cummins is sure to go for a good pay-day, but it will be wise of DD to buy him out.
While they can’t buy any more expensive pacers after buying the above-mentioned players, they will be interested in one of the most skilled Indian fast bowlers in T20 cricket – Jaydev Unadkat. During the last IPL, he finished second on the bowling table with 24 wickets in 12 games for Rising Pune Supergiant with several key performances including two Man-of-the-Match awards. Unadkat's ability to hold his nerve, and bowl accurately at the death will be helpful for the DD franchise.
With Chris Morris already retained and Cummins’ ability to bat deep will help DD make their decision without much of discomfort. And secondly, the team will have to spend a huge money to secure the services of the above-mentioned players and should go for impact Indian all-rounders and Vijay Shankar perfectly fits the bill. The Tamil Nadu skipper recently earned his maiden national call-up against Sri Lanka and has the ability to bowl and bat at equal measure. Hanuma Vihari, Shankar’s former Sunrisers teammate, proved to be an impact player and averages only 21 with the ball and 22 with the bat in the T20Is. He can be a useful buy and someone who will give some power-hitting at times of need.
Delhi’s problems have always been attributed to their lack of imaginative approach while forming the team. In a format as fickle as T20 cricket, it is not at all advisable to not improvise on the go. But with good enough players in the market at the moment, it is not late for the franchise to make a team for the long haul.
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