Naveen Kumar’s amazing raiding performance helped Dabang Delhi top the league table and get a direct entry into the playoffs of the seventh edition of the PKL. The Joginder Narwal-led side has also got a strong defensive unit with Ravinder Pahal and Vishal Mane in the team along with their skipper.
Why will they win
There are no prizes for guessing who will be the star for the Delhi team if they win the title. It has to be raider Naveen Kumar. In his second season in the league, Naveen has taken the tournament by storm with some amazing performance where he has dominated each and every team and thrashed a lot of records. He got past Pardeep Narwal’s consecutive super-10 record and also got to the highest number of super 10s in the season with 20 super 10s to his name. If Naveen has two more good days then Delhi will not have to worry at all for the semi-final against Bengaluru Bulls and the final. A lot will depend on the young lad and coach Krishan Kumar Hooda will want his main man to come up with two best days of his PKL career on Wednesday and Saturday.
Apart from Naveen, the two experienced corners, Joginder Narwal and Ravinder Pahal, are going to be crucial for Delhi. Being experienced, the two of them have played a lot of pressure matches and they know what to do and what not to, in crucial junctures. Joginder has been brilliant with his captaincy in the two seasons that we have seen him in Delhi and Pahal and he make a deadly cover combination for any raiding unit. Joginder will have the role to handle the situation in the defence during the last two games which the Delhi team will want to win to lay their hands on the coveted PKL trophy.
Why they might not
Like many other teams, Delhi also struggled with the cover defenders. Although Vishal Mane is one of the most experienced cover defenders playing in the league, he has not been able to put up a great show for them this season. He has been extremely poor and has leaked points at important junctures in the defence. At the right cover position, Mane has only 30% strike rate which is really poor for someone who has the experience behind him. He looks erratic on the mat and his lacklustre show is a cause of concern for the Delhi think tank and coach Hooda. He will want to improve on his performance at the league stage where he collected only 26 points from 21 matches. Mane not being able to put up a good show might increase pressure on the two corners Joginder and Pahal against top raiders like Pawan Sehrawat whom they will face in the semis.
Apart from the defence, the raiding department has some negatives and that is the below-average performance by others apart from Naveen. Chandran Ranjit’s form dipped midway in the season and Vijay has not been that very good as an all-rounder. The team played with Meraj Sheykh in the last two league games but that looked like only as a part of the think tank to give Joginder a rest and the Iranian led the side in the defender’s absence. Law of averages can catch with Naveen any time in the tournament and if that happens in the playoffs then Delhi will have to struggle it out to get raid points. Delhi lack a good support raider which teams like Bengal and Haryana have this season. Their over-dependence on Naveen might cost them the title in season 7.
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