Struggling to find answers, unable to match their counterparts, and after a last-spot finish in 2018, the Delhi Capitals had only one way to move: upwards. And that is where they have moved for the last two years. Rubbishing the tag of underachievers, they shot up to success rather hurriedly, finishing third in 2019. The change of people at the helm of affairs – Ricky Ponting took over as their coach – was refreshingly pleasing too and come 2020, the Capitals managed to break into a territory they had not seen even once in 13 participations: the IPL Finals.
Though the title has remained elusive, their journey from rags to the riches under the able leadership of Shreyas Iyer was as inspirational as any. During their journey till the grand finale, the Capitals withstood countless blows. They lost the services to their premium pacer in Ishant Sharma and were subsequently left without Amit Mishra too. Injuries to Rishabh Pant, Kagiso Rabada, and the lack of Prithvi Shaw’s form shook their balance and led them wanting at times, but none of that prevented them from keeping themselves in the hunt.
Right before the decisive playoffs, the Capitals lost back-to-back games and recorded six losses in the last eight fixtures. However, the initial hard work meant that they were not thrown out of contention and a timely victory towards the end saw them inside the top-four slot. Coming into this year’s auction after releasing Alex Carey, Keemo Paul, Sandeep Lamichhane, Tushar Deshpande, Mohit Sharma, and Jason Roy, and Harshal Patel (Traded), Daniel Sams (Traded), Capitals were looking for 8 slots to fill, three of which were overseas berths.
Their prominent purchases in the auction included Steven Smith (INR 2.20 Crore), Sam Billings (INR 2 Crore), Umesh Yadav (INR 1 Crore), and Tom Curran (INR 5.25 Crore) and they employed Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddharth, all uncapped, at their base price of INR 20 Lakhs.
What would be an ideal XI for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021? Let’s take a look –
1. Shikhar Dhawan
The Delhi Capitals are blessed to have a bulk of Indian batsmen in their top-order, and there is nothing to complain about for the management when they have an opener as accomplished as Shikhar Dhawan. Having amassed 5197 runs in 176 matches, which include a whopping 41 half-centuries, Dhawan is one of the most experienced campaigners of the league, and his excellence in the shortest format is not hidden from anyone.
He was at his sensational best in the 2020 edition, when he finished only second to KL Rahul in the run for the Orange Cap. Owing to the dismal form of his opening partner Prithvi Shaw, Dhawan, at times, had the added burden of carrying his side along alone, although, performance-wise, it turned out to be his best season, and he ended up scoring 618 runs at 44.14 with 2 centuries.
Having stamped his name amongst the best in the IPL business, Dhawan will once again imitate the proceedings with the bat for his home franchise.
2. Prithvi Shaw
The young and energetic Prithvi Shaw has been a revelation for the world of cricket. Touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket, Shaw’s journey has not been a bed of roses. Much like every player at the international juncture, he has had a fair share of troubles, although none of that has led him to lose the spirit towards his profession.
In search of methods to solidify his position in the team, Shaw’s IPL numbers are not the most enticing. He has, in 38 matches, scored 826 runs at 21.74: an underwhelming average, to say the least. In the previous edition of the league, his third, he managed only 228 runs in 13 matches.
Continuous misfiring at the top even led to his ouster from the eleven, and he paved way for Ajinkya Rahane and Marcus Stoinis as openers, leading to problems in team balance. After a cold season, this is a valuable chance for him to show his mettle.
3. Steve Smith
After an underwhelming last season with the bat, where he managed only 311 runs at 25.91 from 14 games, Steve Smith was released by the Rajasthan Royals ahead of the mini-auction. He might not have been able to deliver justice last time around, but Smith was on song against India in the ODI series, when he registered back to back 62-ball centuries, making a strong statement.
He brings along a good blend of caution and aggression, the most desirable trait in a middle-order batsman in the shortest format of the game. Given Smith’s ability to switch gears, he is more than a handy addition in a side that has ample power-hitters, both at the top and the middle-order.
Having featured in 95 matches, the Australian has amassed 2333 runs at 35.34 with the highest score of 101. Furthermore, Smith is a capable leader, who has considerable experience of captaining the side at the international level, as well as in franchise cricket.
4. Shreyas Iyer
One of the most stylish and fearless hitters of the cricket ball, Shreyas Iyer has found a position in India’s limited-overs side. He has been a regular feature of the Indian Premier League, and the coming edition will be his seventh.
After assuming the role of the captain, Iyer managed to lead Delhi Capitals into a territory that had remained elusive throughout their journey as a franchise. Similar to his flair with the bat, Iyer showed immense strength and courage in leading his side from the front and managed the team skillfully even in times of adversity.
On an individual level, the last edition of the IPL turned out to be his most successful: he scored 519 runs at 34.60 including three half-centuries. The right-hander made a couple of handy contributions during India’s tour of Australia and after a stellar performance for his franchise last year, he will resume the mission IPL 2021 on a high.
5. Rishabh Pant
If there is one player who has been a constant talk of the town over the last couple of months, it has been India’s wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant. Amidst many skeptic voices, Pant has notched up one performance after another to show his worth.
After successful assignments in Australia, where he played the talisman for the nation to script a famous escape in Sydney and an improbable conquest at Brisbane, the southpaw has managed to translate that form into the home series against England too, where, apart from his renowned batting prowess, his keeping skills have been on a wide display as well.
While the last edition of the IPL – where he scored 343 runs in 14 games with only a single score of 50-plus and struck much lower than his career strike rate of 152 – was not up to his standard, his recent form infuses nothing but promise that a spectacular season awaits him.
6. Marcus Stoinis
A genuine all-rounder from Australia, Marcus Stoinis has established his name as a limited-overs specialist. An aggressive batsman by nature, Stoinis falls in the most sought-after category of players: seam-bowling all-rounder.
Despite some shuffling in his batting position last year, he did not fail to impress and played a couple of knocks that single-handedly drove his team to victory. He is coming on the back of an impressive run of form in the Big Bash League, where he amassed 396 runs in 13 innings at 33. More notably, Stoinis’ tournament strike rate was a brilliant 142.45 and he smoked 17 sixes.
In his 68-match IPL career, the Australian all-rounder has amassed 2079 runs at 35.23, featuring a century and 12 half-centuries. Given his two-fold ability at the death – whack with the bat and control with the ball – he is one of the most exciting players in the format.
7. Axar Patel
An accurate, economic left-arm spinner and a pinch hitter lower down the order, Axar Patel adds brilliant balance to his IPL franchise. He is currently a part of India’s Test squad in the home tour against England, and the left-arm spinner named the distinction of bagging a five-wicket haul on debut in India’s 317-run victory over the visitors in Chennai.
Axar made crucial contributions with the ball last year, and even though he could manage only 9 wickets from 15 games, his economy of 6.41 highlights the discipline and control he showed. Having played 97 matches in the league, he has a fair bit of experience under his belt and he forms a lethal pair alongside Ravichandran Ashwin.
Coming to bat lower in the order, his team will expect him to score some quick runs. And even though his physical appearance might suggest otherwise, the lanky spinner has the power to clear the field with ease.
8. Ravi Ashwin
Few cricketers can match the guile and wit of Ravi Ashwin. A familiar name in the Indian team, Ashwin has left an indelible mark on the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well. He possesses the distinction of accounting for a minimum of 10 wickets every season since 2010, and the off-spinner has bagged 138 wickets from 154 matches in his IPL career.
Ashwin’s good patch of form can be evidenced from his recent exploits in India’s tour of Australia and the on-going series against England. Though he missed scripting a rare double of scoring a century and picking a ten-for in the second Test at Chennai, nothing of that takes away the pivotal role he played in the team’s victory.
He scalped 13 wickets from 15 fixtures in the last season, with an economy rate of 7.66. A bowler of his standard, with endless variations, is undeniably a precious asset.
9. Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada was at his blistering best in the last edition of the IPL, and he ended up bagging the Purple Cap for his whopping 30 wickets in 17 games with two 4-wicket hauls. No other bowler has taken more wickets than Rabada (55) in the last two seasons of the IPL combined and that speaks for his proficiency at his art.
The tear-away pacer has been amongst the wickets in the recently-concluded Test series against Pakistan too, where he became the fourth-quickest to reach the 200-wicket landmark in Tests. Given his effortless ability to move the ball and extract something from even the tracks that do not offer much assistance, he has gone on to establish his name amongst the best already.
Alongside his countryman Anrich Nortje, Rabada forms a dreary duo that can rattle the opponents ten days out of ten. His contribution to Delhi’s performance last year was crucial, and the team’s expectations from him will not be any different this year.
10. Anrich Nortje
The express pacer from South Africa had a breaking debut season in the IPL last year, after being roped in as a replacement of Chris Woakes in the squad. Tall and fierce, Nortje generates a pace that can be daunting for any batsman. Notably, he ended up delivering the fastest delivery in the IPL history in 2020.
He bagged 22 wickets from 16 games, averaging a shade under 24 and with a strike rate of 16.63. Though his economy can be a concern at times, the Protea quick has the skillset to unsettle the best batsmen in the world.
Alongside Rabada, Nortje forms a pace duo that can only be matched by the Jasprit Bumrah-Trent Boult pair of the Mumbai Indians. After a remarkable maiden season in 2020, Nortje has certainly set the bar high for himself and he would want to take it higher.
11. Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma has been a regular feature in the IPL and is only one of the few players who have played almost every edition of the league since its inception. Having featured in a solitary game in the previous edition before being ruled out for the whole season, the lanky Indian pacer spent a long duration nursing his injury at the National Cricket Academy, Bangalore.
His injury debacle not only denied him a chance to be a part of his franchise, but Ishant also missed the high-octane Border-Gavaskar Trophy held Down Under. However, after an agonizing phase of inactivity, the right-arm pacer has regrouped with the Indian squad for the England series.
Having played 90 IPL matches thus far, Ishant is the only capped Indian pacer in the Delhi Capitals’ franchise, and after missing an entire season, he would be eager to join forces with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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