Delhi started off the season in dominant fashion, looking like the team to beat, as but the season progressed, they lost their path to script a ‘could have been’ story. A bitter-sweet campaign for Delhi, ending second-best, but they can take pride in having reached their first ever final.
7 wins in the first 9 matches, only to finish with 6 losses in the final 8 - seems exactly like the trajectory followed by Game of Thrones, as they made everyone believe in them, wait for them, pray for them, root for them, with huge suspense and powerful performances only to turn out to be just another ordinary team when it was time to take their journey to a conclusive end, exactly like the last season of GOT, which promised a lot but failed to deliver. They had all the things going for them in the first half of their season, but all of a sudden their middle-order stopped clicking all at once. To top it, they were plagued by multiple injuries and their bowlers looked sub-par - felt like all of their seasons were written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; quite unsatisfactory.
Just like GOT, they had Marcus ‘Jon Snow’ Stoinis saving them multiple times, who seemed to have taken upon himself to take Delhi to the knockouts with his tendency to take important wickets and score important runs - but obviously there can’t be only one protagonist in the huge star-cast. He was hugely aided by Shikhar Dhawan and Purple cap holder Kagiso Rabada, both of whom looked in an impeccable form in their respective roles. Lastly, Axar ‘Tyrion’ Patel - the unsung hero - was like a man on a mission who knew exactly what he had to do and delivered that to perfection.
The King of Capitals, the Prince that was promised Shreyas ‘Targaryen’ Iyer felt like the one who would transform Delhi fortunes with 38-ball 88, versus KKR, but what we got, in the end, was just the first copy version of the King himself. Although he did score over 500 runs in the season, which on paper looks like a great season, most of those runs worked in favour of the opposition as the Delhi captain failed to attack after using up all the deliveries. Iyer was not alone in his gimmicks as he was ably supported by Rishabh Pant, who seemed to have gotten into some weird mindset, where he tried to play sensibly but ended up doing senseless innings. Ironically, both of them played a good knock in the final but again, to what use?
Marks for direction - 8/10
Standing at the helm, Ricky Ponting seemed helpless at times with all his strategies failing as the Delhi players were behaving like Cersei, hell-bent on destroying all the good work, but the Aussie coach came up with a masterstroke by sending Stoinis up the order in the Qualifier, which alone took them to the final. With Prithvi Shaw desperately struggling in the middle, the decision could’ve come earlier instead of trying Ajinkya Rahane at the top, but as they say ‘better late than never’. He did well in helping Delhi script a comeback from their losing streak in the second half of the season and utilized his resources pretty well in the injury-plagued season. All in all, a decent season with minimal tactical errors. One extra point for helping Delhi reach their first final.
To start off from the top, the decision to send Marcus Stoinis up the batting order was a huge hit for Delhi as it helped them reach the final. Other than that, using Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin wisely in the powerplay, giving the responsibility to bowl in the middle-overs to Rabada, and them finally learning to use Shimron Hetmyer towards the end were some of the decisions that definitely worked in favour of Delhi. Bringing Stoinis onto to bowl whenever in trouble was another hit, but it was more of desperate call than a tactical decision; given the form of Stoinis, it didn’t really have much chance to fail.
It would be an understatement to state that Shaw was going through a rough phase, he was terrible and Delhi should have benched him much earlier than he actually was. Alex Carey, who got the opportunity to play after Pant’s injury, didn’t really do any justice to the chances he was given. And how about watching the previous performances of Hetmyer and then constructing a place for him in the team, rather than using him haphazardly and in the end finally releasing that his true potential? Another huge miss of their season was the lack of a third seamer. They tried multiple players at this position including Harshal Patel, Tushar Deshpande, Avesh Khan and Daniel Sams, but none of them could perform well enough to warrant a place in the team.
A good plot is incomplete without a good supporting cast and Hetmyer proved to be the able support to Delhi in the Qualifier with his 22-ball 42 and snatched the game away from Hyderabad. Ashwin was another able supporter who took crucial wickets at important junctures along with Nortje’s initial raw pace burst. Rahane too proved to be beneficial in the end, making an able support cast that never fired all at once except the initial dominating run.
Overall rating - 7/10