Delhi Capitals have been a team on the rise these past couple of years as evidenced by their final appearance in 2020. They possess the perfect balance of a strong core of home grown talent interspered with some of the IPL’s biggest overseas stars. Will IPL 2021 finally be the year that they take the trophy home to the capital? Let’s consider their chances
DC Batting Preview IPL 2021
Delhi’s great strength over the last couple of seasons has been the emergence of a couple of home grown players who have gone from promising youngsters to global superstars. Certainly Rishabh Pant is well on his way to being a household name around the world and DC’s young and inspirational captain Shreyas Iyer is not far behind. Those 2 are joined by Prithvi Shaw another exceptional young batting talent fresh off India’s seemingly endless production line.
While Iyer and Pant have been enhancing their reputations on duty with the national team, Shaw who was dropped from the side after the debacle of the first Test in Australia this winter has been scoring runs for fun in the domestic limited overs competitions. In the 8 games he played in Mumbai’s title winning Vijay Hazare season, Shaw scored 827 runs, the most ever in 50 over season in India, a haul that included scores of 105*, 165, 185* and 227*! The god given talent of the lad is clear to see and for many years he has been heralded as Tendulkar’s heir apparent. Could this be the year that he truly establishes himself?
Alongside side these 3, DC have been clever in deploying a couple of more experienced pros no doubt to allow the youngsters to play their natural games and to give Shreyas Iyer a helping hand on the field. Equally Shikhar Dhawan is still one of the best white ball cricketers around and he was in red hot form last season scoring back to back centuries on his way to being the 2nd highest run scorer in the competition.
You would image then that the top order of DC will comprise these 4 players but the Capitals also have a safe pair of hands in the form of Ajinke Rahane to call upon and they’ve sigend Steve Smith. Smith’s acquisition during the auction was a curious one given that if he is to be successful you’d image that he will need to play in top 3 which as we’ve established would mean disposing one of the men just mentioned and of course it would mean DC probably needing to rebalance their side by dropping another overseas player to accommodate him.
Moving down the order, Marcus Stoinis was one of the best players of IPL 2020 hitting 352 runs and taking 13 wickets. I have to admit he proved me wrong with the way that he has developed his game of late. I thought he would struggle in the middle order coming in against the slower bowlers and if you’ve watched him in the BBL over the last couple of years it’s difficult to remember that he is an all-rounder given that he hardly ever bowls for the Melbourne Stars.
Finally, at least in terms of established names, we come to the curious case of Shimron Hetmyer a player that DC and before them RCB have invested heavily in without seeing much of a return. Hetmyer is sure to turn up for this year’s IPL with a new haircut and some fancy trainers but will he be bringing any run scoring form with him?
His exclusion from the West Indies side for much of the last 12months shows his star is definitely on the decline and at 24-years-old he can no longer rely exclusively on the tag of young precocious talent to get him a deal in next year’s mega auction. The acquisition of Smith as well as Sam Billings does give DC options in the middle order and as we’ll see by some of the venues they are playing at, it might be that they can’t afford the luxury of Hetmyer in lower scoring contests.
Breaking into this DC team is going to be tough for any aspiring young batsman but in Lalit Yadav and Ripal Patel the Capitals have a couple of talents on their hands. Lalit’s ability to bowl right-arm off breaks also make him a potentially useful option against sides who are stacked with left-handers.
DC Bowling Preview IPL 2021
It’s impossible for a side to be successful across an entire season without having an efficient and multi-faceted bowling line-up. Delhi Capitals have the advantage of being able to pick Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel, 2 players coming off a hat full of wickets in the longer format of the game and both of whom are canny operators in T20 cricket. The fact that both can the bat as well coupled with Marcus Stoinis in the top 6 is another big advantage for the Capitals who generally have plenty of options during games.
If they opt to go for a third slow bowler in the form of a wrist spinner then DC can choose from either Amit Mishra who has bags of experience in this tournament or Pravin Dubey who was given some game time last season. Given that between them in last season’s IPL the pair made just six appearances (Mishra was injured) and took 3 wickets it suggests this is an area of concern for the Capitals with wicket taking wrist spinners at the fore of most successful white ball teams around the world.
Thus far however, that gap has been made up by the brilliant form of their quick bowlers and in particular Kagiso Rabada who was the leading wicket taker in IPL 2020 and the leading fast bowler the season before that. His partnership with fellow countryman Anrich Nortje who claimed 22 wickets in his debut season in the IPL will again be crucial to Delhi’s hopes of winning that elusive first title.
DC’s back up options in the quick bowling stakes are also impressive with the experienced duo of Ishant Sharma and new signing Umesh Yadav ready to offer assistance as a 3rd seamer. I was somewhat surprised that more teams weren’t interested in Umesh Yadav at the auction. While this is probably not his best format, he still has ample experience and is just the kind of player a side can turn to if looking to re-balance the play 11 with an extra seamer. Producing homegrown fast bowlers is something that India in general have gotten better at over the last decade but they are still a valuable commodity within an IPL squad.
Further back options come in the form of England duo Chris Woakes and Tom Curran but you feel that it would take a dramatic loss of form or injury to some of the players ahead of them in order for the pair to see much first team action this season. Other options include Avesh Khan who has made just 9 IPL appearances since his debut in 2017. However, the 24-year-old right arm quick is coming off the back of a very strong domestic T20 season, taking 14 wickets at a strike rate of a victim ever 8.5 balls, the best of any bowler in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy this season.
The only other obvious hole in the Delhi Capitals bowling line-up then is the absence of a left-arm seam option. DC did move to bring in 29-year-old Lukman Meriwala whose record at domestic level looks impressive with 72 wickets in 44 T20 matches to date. How he might fair against higher quality batsman in the IPL is anyones guess but his efforts over the years have at least given him the opportunity at a shot at the big time.
Delhi Capitals Venues IPL 2021
As with all teams in IPL 2021, the Delhi Capitals will play their games across 4 neutral venues and so we’ll consider the player stats across those different venues.
3 x matches at the Wankhede Stadium
Pant has certainly enjoyed himself at the Wankhede on previous visits and Dhawan and Rahane have favourable records here too. You would have thought in general that Delhi’s batting line-up will do well on a typical Wankhede pitch and they undoubtedly have the advantage of playing their opening match against CSK who probably don’t have the ideal bowling line-up for these conditions.
Bowling DC have a number of their squad who have tasted success in Mumbai before and it’s noticeable how much experience they have to call upon in different conditions particularly from their bowlers. That little bit of extra bounce at the Wankhede can benefit both spinners and seamers
2 x matches at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium
Strike rates in general tend to fall for batsmen playing in Chennai. DC don’t have a huge amount of experience playing at this venue with the likes of Pant and Shaw making just a single IPL appearance at this particular venue both which finished with single figure scores. That being the Arun Jaitley Stadium where they usually play their home game is similarly slow so you’d expect these players to adapt to conditions quickly.
This is a venue that Ravi Ashwin knows like the back of his hand and has had great success bowling at across all forms of cricket. It wouldn’t surprise me if DC went with 3 spinners in their 2 games here opening the door to either Mishra or Dubey to earn some more game time.
4 x matches Narendra Modi Stadium
Not many players in this season’s IPL have any experience of playing at the Narendra Modi Stadium but Delhi are at advantage in that Rahane and Smith have batted on this surface in the IPL and of course the likes Dhawan, Pant, Iyer and Patel are playing 5 matches there for India at this very moment. Evidence so far is that it’s a little 2 paced but we have seen a few decent knocks by batsmen willing to play their shots.
5 x matches at Eden Gardens
Batting wise Eden Gardens has not been a successful venue for many of the DC batsmen. In addition to the stats shown above, Steve Smith averages 8 from his 3 matches in Kolkata while Stoinis and Shaw also have averages in the teens. As noted above though, DC do have plenty of options when it comes to their batting line-up so on potentially lower scoring pitches they will hope to find the right combinations to set competitive totals.
Eden Gardens tends to have something in it for the seamers and Chris Woakes has been devastating at this venue in the past taking a wicket every 9 balls. Rabada has also found success here in his previous matches and it’s tempting to think that the Capitals strong seam options should serve them well during the run in.