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By Sudatta Mukherjee
Delhi Daredevils had a very bad season last year. They played 16, won three and lost 13. Eventually they were on the bottom of the points table. The franchise before the start of the last season lost three of their players. Varun Aaron and Kevin Pietersen had to withdraw due to injuries and Jesse Ryder was away in New Zealand fighting his way back from a bar-brawl which left him in coma for some time. Even Andre Russell couldn’t play much due to injury issues. However, having said that despite having big names like Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner, Ross Taylor and Virender Sehwag in their squad, Delhi experienced one of their worse seasons. As a result, ahead of the auction, Delhi Daredevils decided to form a fresh squad and didn’t retain any of their old players.
Previous year’s squad: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Manpreet Juneja, Ajit Agarkar, Gulam Bodi, Johan Botha, Unmukt Chand, Bharat Chipli, Royston Dias, CM Gautam, Kedar Jadhav, Siddarth Kaul, Jeevan Mendis, Morne Morkel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Yogesh Nagar, Sujit Nayak, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Ben Rohrer, Andre Russell, Virender Sehwag, Aristh Singhvi, Roelof van der Merwe, Venugopal Rao, David Warner, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder.
Previous Year’s Strategy: Delhi had big names of international cricket. Led by Jayawardene, Delhi had Warner, who rose to fame mainly due to his IPL performances. Who could ever forget Warner’s hundred against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2010. Despite that apart from Warner, Jayawardene and Sehwag, to some point, no one really rose to the occassion, helping Delhi escape the turmoil they had last year. Even their bowling didn’t make much impact. Umesh Yadav, who were their highest wicket-taker last season, had a bowling average of 31.75. They depended on players who were world-class quality but were too inconsistent.
This Year’s Squad: Dinesh Karthik, Kevin Pietersen, Murali Vijay, Mohammed Shami, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Quinton de Kock, Jaydev Unadkat, Manoj Tiwary, JP Duminy, Kedar Jadhav, Ross Taylor, Rahul Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, James Neesham, Wayne Parnell, Shahbaz Nadeem, Saurabh Tiwary, Siddharth Kaul, Rahul Shukla and Milind Kumar.
After last year’s horror show, they had clear intention of starting from scratch. Following the general pattern of having less players on the bench apart of the playing XI like any other team, Delhi bought 21 players compared to their squad of 31 from last year. They retained Pietersen, who is currently free form his national duty and will be looking very much forward to some exciting cricket after his Ashes 2013-14 season which ended on a sad note. Delhi also went for Maharashtra highest run-getter Kedar Jadhav and Shahbaz Nadeem, who has done well for the franchise last year.
Their big buy has been Dinesh Karthik, who has been in an amazing form recently. He scored a desperate 91 for the Rest of India against Karanataka in the Irani Trophy match. Other big buys for Delhi has been Murali Vijay, Mohammed Shami, Quinton de Kock and Ross Taylor. Imagine de Kock and Murali Vijay opening the batting for Delhi. One can easily imagine de Kock playing the shots while Vijay, settle and take it easy. The bowling has also been strengthen by Shami, Parnell, Rahul Sharma and Unadkat.
This Year’s Strategy: Delhi on paper, looks a quite balanced team. On any given day, Delhi will surely play Karthik, Vijay, Pietersen, de Kock, Shami, Jadhav and probably James Neesham, who has been touted as a all-rounder with potential. However, apart from Shami and Parnell, their bowling department doesn’t give provide much confidence. They have to depend a lot on the experiences of Karthik, Pietersen, Vijay, Duminy and Shami. The Delhi squad also provides a feeling that they will be depending on players who can bat and bowl and are not necessarily slotted as all-rounders.
Dark Horse: Neesham, undoubtedly, will be the dark horse for Delhi. A big hitter and a handy bowler, Neesham will be the impact player for the Daredevils. In his last match for Otago, he took four wickets and scored 147 runs. This itself portrays the power he carries with himself.
(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)
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