The Big Picture:
10 seasons, 9 different captains, most number of defeats in IPL history, biggest loss by runs in the IPL and the record of losing most matches in a streak (9); Delhi Daredevils has had its fair share of lows in the franchise’s decade-long history since the IPL’s inception. In fact, of all the sides that made their debut in the 2008 season, Delhi is the only one to have never reached a final.
The Delhi outfit share resemblance with the English Premier League giants Arsenal FC who, despite having a full-fledged fan backing have rarely given their fans a chance to celebrate title glory. Just like the Gunners, DD too have a magical combination of youth and experience in their armory but are yet to strike a balance between the two and utilize it in the search of their maiden IPL title.
So what’ new this time around?
Its the fact that the city’s own lad and one of the tournament’s most successful captain, Gautam Gambhir is back from the ‘City of Joy’ to his hometown, in a hope to give DD its first trophy. The veteran first led the side in 2009 where DD finished top in the league stages but was knocked out in the semi-finals. He was later snatched by KKR in the 2011 auctions and led the Kolkata franchise to a couple of trophies in the 2012 and 2014 season, until this year; when the KKR finally bid adieu to their most successful captain after three quiet seasons.
And to support Gambhir in this quest, the DD management appointed Ricky Ponting as the side’s head coach. Not many would doubt the skills and abilities of the former Australian captain, as he brings loads of experience to the table in any format of the game. Considered to be one of the finest readers of the game, Ponting has previously worked with the Mumbai Indians, winning the trophy once, in his two-year stint as head coach with the side.
Coming out from the ‘Dravidian-era’ of focussing on the process of nurturing the youth, DD made some really good buys at this year’s auction with Punter at the helm of affairs. The side retained the likes of Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant who formed their core last year and used their remaining RTMs on Mohammad Shami and Kagiso Rabada. to increase the firepower in their batting, DD bought Glenn Maxwell who currently leads the ICC all-rounder rankings in the shortest format of the game, with glee as KXIP chose not to retain the Australian for this season. They further added English opener Jason Roy who boasts of a strike rate of 143 in all T20s, the number one T20 batsman Colin Munro who’s scored 3 T20I hundreds (record most) and India’s U-19 World Cup winning captain Prithvi Shaw with his teammate Manjot Kalra who hit a stunning century in the final of the recently concluded U-19 WC; to strengthen their batting order. In the bowling department, they got hold of one of the best left-arm pacers in the world at the moment in the form of Trent Boult and even managed to get the services of leg-spinner Amit Mishra, an IPL veteran who has taken three hat-tricks in his IPL career. One of the most talked about players in the auction was also a DD purchase: 17-year-old legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane hailing from Nepal, who also became the first cricketer from his country to play in the IPl. In a bet to increase their bench strength, they bought the Australian all-rounder Dan Christian who had a really good Big Bash last year.
Full Squad: Gautam Gambhir (c), Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Naman Ojha, Chris Morris, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammad Shami, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Daniel Christian, Jayant Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Maan, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Sayan Ghosh.
The two men in-charge for the side’s success this year, Gambhir and Ponting are the biggest boosts for the team’s chances of finally ending a 10-year drought. While Gambhir is one of the most successful Captains of the tournament having won two titles, Ponting himself is a two-time World Cup winning captain for his nation. Both of them bring in tonnes of experience and will look to pass on their teachings to a relatively younger looking side in the championship. DD also has the services of some of the biggest hitters of the ball, with the likes of Maxwell, Pant, Morris, and Munro having the ability to send the bowlers packing. Meanwhile, the likes of Rabada, Shami and Boult will look to make the most of the pace-friendly pitch that the Kotla offers. The onus will now be on Gambhir to get his combinations right for every match as DD covered most of the bases in the auction with a talented lot of players.
First XI: 1. Gambhir (c), 2. Munro, 3. Pant (wk), 4. Iyer, 5. Maxwell, 6. Morris, 7. Shankar, 8. Mishra, 9. Rabada, 10. Nadeem, 11. Shami.
Predictions:- DD can make it to the playoffs stage if their captain Gautam Gambhir delivers with the bat, as he is no more an India regular and embraced a sluggish domestic campaign. The team management will also hope their foreign players like Maxwell and Munro continue their recent fine form, along with Indian young guns like Pant and Iyer who will weigh up their India chances through some good performances in the IPL 2018. Rest assured, like always; nearly 40000 fans would cheer the team with the same passion and enthusiasm, every time the Daredevils turn up at the Kotla.