Delhi Daredevils finished IPL 2018 at the bottom © IANS
Delhi Daredevils finished IPL 2018 at the bottom © IANS

Delhi Daredevils (DD) had finished in the bottom five every time since 2013. Expectations were obviously low, and they did complete justice to them by finishing last in IPL 2018. They were the first side to be eliminated from the tournament, and were the only ones to be eliminated till Match 53 (of 56 league matches got over). In other words, it was yet another year of Delhi Daredevils being Delhi Daredevils.

The side was stronger than many thought. In Gautam Gambhir they had a war-hardened general to lead from front and anchor the batting line-up. They had retained Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, both of whom performed exceptionally this season.

Kane Williamson did win the Orange Cap, but Pant scored only 51 fewer despite playing 3 matches less. Both men averaged around the 52.5-mark, but Pant struck them at an astonishing 173, rewriting records during that outrageous 63-ball 128* against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH).

Iyer’s 411 runs came at 138. Gambhir resigned mid-season and was dropped, but Prithvi Shaw (245 runs at a strike rate of 153) stood up to fill those massive boots. Vijay Shankar, ridiculed after the Nidahas Trophy final, scored 212 runs at 54 and a strike rate of 143 without anyone noticing. Jason Roy played only 5 matches, but won one of them single-handedly (and wins were rare for Delhi this season).

That gave Delhi five solid batsmen. Unfortunately, the bowling fell apart. Trent Boult rallied on lion-heartedly, playing all 14 matches for his 18 wickets, but even he went for 8.84 an over. With 12 wickets in 10 matches (economy 7.13), Amit Mishra was the best bowler by far.

And that was it. Questions will be asked on why Sandeep Lamichhane, their most successful bowler, didn’t play earlier in the tournament. His 3 matches got him 5 for 82 from 12 overs.

On the other hand, Liam Plunkett played 7 matches for his 4 wickets (9 an over). Mohammed Shami, Avesh Khan, and Shahbaz Nadeem all went for over 10 and Rahul Tewatia a face-saving 7.86. Harshal Patel got a few wickets, but an economy rate of 9.54 didn’t help him.

Chris Morris left midway. Kagiso Rabada was ruled out, and Junior Dala was no replacement for him. In other words, while Delhi had the batsmen, they lacked the bowlers to back their batting firepower.

Glenn Maxwell got 169 runs (141) and 5 wickets (8.25) to show for 12 matches. Why Maxwell kept getting picked ahead of Roy and Colin Munro will remain a mystery.

Abhishek Sharma’s IPL debut was delayed as well, presumably to give Maxwell more chances. Abhishek played thrice and got out once for his 63, at a strike rate of 191. Manjot Kalra, Player of the Match in the Under-19 World Cup final, never got a chance.

To sum up, DD had, on an average, turned up roughly with about four batsmen and two bowlers every time. That is not the combination that will win you matches in IPL. These highlights will tell their story.

- Failed to defend 167 against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)

- Failed to defend 175 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)

- Scored 219 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)

- Chased 212 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and lost by 13 runs

- Scored 196 against Rajasthan Royals (RR)

- Failed to defend 188 against SRH

- Chased 188 against RCB and lost by 7 runs

At this point Lamichhane had arrived. So in their last two matches they defended 163 and 175 against CSK and Mumbai Indians (MI) respectively.

What if, we repeat, Lamichhane had the run he deserved? Will they learn from 2018 and not repeat the mistakes next season? Will the teenage trio of Abhishek, Kalra, and Lamichhane get the runs they deserve? Will they go flat out on a partner for Boult if Rabada doesn’t play? Will they seek a proper replacement for Morris if he is unfit?

 None of that happened this season, but had these happened, they might have changed Delhi’s course this season.