The Daredevils from Delhi side in Indian Premier League has always studded with some true Devils. Their initial squad read Sehwag, Gambhir, Warner, Dilshan and De Villers. This is as best a batting line up as one can get. Yet the results have not been so fascinating. They did make it to the Semi finals under Sehwag in the first two seasons only to lose there. This was despite the crackling second season where they topped the league charts.
Provided with the option of retention, they erred in not retaining more than Sehwag. The second major auction in 2010 was a mess. They chose with hitters like Finch, Brit etc without going for solid players. Their lack of planning was obvious and with the transfer of their mentor T.A.Shekar, Delhi chose a squad with so many pacers. But the lack of proper spinner bit the side in last season. Infact the side lived and died with Sehwag. No wonder the brittle side was the Wooden Spoon holders of IPL 4.
At this juncture, return of T.A.Shekar as the mentor/manager changed the scenarios. While they still lack a proven spinner in their line up, the batting has been strengthened immensely. They made two very smart transfers during the window period. Pietersen was acquired from Deccan Chargers and Ross Taylor from Rajasthan Royals. These two buys brought the side, two big match winners.
The auction of IPL 5 was perfectly utilized by the side to add depth to their batting and pace attack. Jayawardane was added to the middle order and the value he brings to the table is beyond comprehension. They bought the promising West Indies star Andre Russell who is yet to get a game this season. Doug Bracewell was added to the pace attack which was already among the best in the competition.
The weakness of the side has been the lack of genuine spinner. Here the advent of Shabaz Nadeem stepping into the role of key spinner is pivotal. He has been instrumental in minding the middle overs and has been thus far very successful. If things go well, he may do a Rahul Sharma for Delhi this season. By the fifth match he has 6 wickets but more importantly the economy rate of 4.88 which is second only to the T20 specialist Malinga’s in IPL 5. His ability to squeeze the scoring rate has been critical in Delhi’s campaign. However he has always been given the cushion of bowling against circumspect batting, thanks to the menacing pacers.
Pace attack of Delhi is so far miles ahead of the other sides. In five matches, they have managed to crumble two big sides for partly scores. Irfan Pathan is getting back his mojo and that is good news not just for Delhi but India too. Umesh Yadav, the revelation of the wretched tour Down Under is continuing the good work giving little space for the opponents to get away the pressure created by Morne Morkel. Morne is in the firing mode. Currently holding the Purple Cap, he has been unplayable by any means. 12 wickets at an average of 9.33 and economy of 5.89 are just amazing. Skipper cannot ask for more. The fifth bowler has been a problem with Agarkar going for a plenty as usual. That is something that Sehwag needs to address.
Finally, coming to their strongest forte, Delhi’s batting line up is the best in the competition. Bangalore may have a more terrorizing line up and Chennai may have a more solid one, but Delhi’s is more menacing and consistent one. Sehwag is yet to fire his usual self but then the side is not in need of it too so far. Everyone knows what could happen if he fires. Jayawardane is someone who can score runs without making the opposition aware of it.
Pietersen has just scored a spectacular century and his shots stamp its authority. Ross Taylor can be destructive when he gets his groove and it has been seen earlier in IPL and Champion Leagues too. Naman Ojha is a chirpy customer who can play some big shots as well. Pathan is a useful all rounder. The class of top order has been such that Delhi can play five regular bowlers in their team. This adds a big advantage to the side’s strength.
In the first five matches, apart from one game against Royal Challengers where they lost before the arrival of the big three in the middle overs, Delhi’s game plan has been the same. They have chased in all matches, mostly their bowling attack gives a lesser work to their batsmen. So far their batting is yet to be tested except in the game against Chargers but given the class of the batsmen, it is not going to be a big deal.
Smart selection and clear planning has taken the side to the top of the table. They have just one loss and four wins in five. The bowling has been menacing and batting classy. The run rate they have a notch above the others. If they maintain the same form, Sehwag could very well lift this IPL. Afterall, Dare Devilry is in their name itself.