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By R Vishal
Delhi Daredevils’ start to their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 has been a mixed bag. After a win and a loss in their first two games, it only took three deliveries for their bowling spearhead, upcoming Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile to fall on top of the ball, while fielding, and was ruled out of the tournament with a long-term injury.
Delhi’s team selection in the IPL auction defied logic. While the team owners laid a solid emphasis on stacking their squad with batsmen, the bowling looked weak and severely short of a bowler who can tear into the opposition. Looking at all the teams apart from Delhi in the IPL, in either spin or pace department, they have a versatile line-up. When it comes to Delhi, after slumping to their fourth loss of the tournament against Rajasthan Royals, the doubts regarding their bowling line-up has been exposed.
The trials and tribulations in the bowling line-up has meant that Gary Kirsten and his team management have tinkered quite a bit to find the perfect team balance. On one hand, Delhi look to have successfully structured their batting order from one to seven, coinciding with their charismatic skipper Kevin Pietersen’s return. The bowling has been a different story though. In the first three games of the tournament, Delhi banked on New Zealand medium pacer Jimmy Neesham, and he looked terribly out of place and was taken for plenty. Neesham was replaced with left-arm pacer Wayne Parnell and the South African has been impressive in short bursts so far. Wayne Parnell had a great start to his career, but he has not really lived up to his potential for his country. Parnell will get breakthroughs from time- to-time, but has a bad over in him in almost every game and being a death bowler, the South African can ill afford to have such a reputation.
Mohammad Shami has had a meteoric rise for India, perhaps a little too quickly for the Uttar Pradesh pacer’s liking. Within months after making his debut last year, Shami was already leading the pace attack for Team India, and didn’t look ready to take on such a huge responsibility at an early stage of his career. Shami’s problems have resurfaced for Delhi as well. With the average age of Delhi’s frontline bowlers barely crossing 25, Shami is now expected to mentor the younger crop as well.
Being a quick learner and giving everything he has got, while running into the crease, Shami will be an asset, but at this stage of his career he needs a senior world-class figure with whom he can bowl in tandem with. Jaydev Unadkat lacks the punch to make the cut and relies a tad too much on his variations, and Rahul Sharma’s stupendous start to his IPL career has soon tapered off. All those suggestions of Rahul filling Anil Kumble’s boots a few years ago seem like a rather comical premature declaration. Rahul does not get much turn and those loose deliveries were comfortably put away by the Rajasthan batsmen. The other spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem, has impressed for Delhi with his canny left arm orthodox and is easily been the pick of the lot.
As a result, the big hitting batsmen have bludgeoned the Delhi bowlers. Some of the tournament’s star names like Aaron Finch, MS Dhoni and Kieron Pollard have already gorged on the final overs against them. With little or no options to look at in the dugout, the bowlers need to either step up or let their aforementioned settled batting unit cover-up for Delhi’s tepid bowling attack which is akin to a headless chicken at the moment.
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)
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