Dehli Capitals will be hoping for a significantly more consistent IPL 2023 after a bit of a stop start campaign last year. Many were predicting that 2022 would be the year that DC finally broke their duck and claimed an inaugural title but their campaign was beset by injuries and illness and failed to ever really gain any momentum. We preview Dehli Capitals chances of turning things around in IPL 2023.
Delhi Capitals 2022 Review
The stats below paint a very good picture of the relative strengths and weakness of the DC squad last season and what they’ll need to improve on for IPL 2023 if they hope to reach the playoffs this time around.
We’ll start with a strength which was undoubtedly their fast scoring particularly at the top of the order. In Prithvi Shaw and David Warner they have an experienced and exciting opening combination who generally got their side off to a good start. At the same time, DC possessed sufficient firepower in the middle order to accelerate their scoring at the back end of an innings with the likes of Rishabh Pant and Rovman Powell both achieving strike rates of beyond 200 during those final 5 overs.
However, the lack of really significant scores across IPL 2022 did hinder DC’s progress. It’s no major surprise that the 3 teams who dominated the round robin stage, namely GT, LSG and RR lead the way in regards 50+ scores. DC meanwhile were heavily reliant on David Warner who notched 5 x half centuries and was the only member of their squad to pass the 400 run mark for the season which remains the gold standard for top order batsmen.
Bowling wise it was their lack of penetration in the powerplay that meant in many matches DC were having to play catch-up. Certainly worth noting that the likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Mustafizur and Sakariya were all very economical going at around 8 or less an over, but besides a couple of good spells from the former, there were few occassions were DC could really say they were dominating opposition batting line-ups during the early stages of an innings.
It meant that the achievements of Kuldeep Yadav who returned to form after a couple of years in the IPL wilderness were even more impressive. His 21 wickets at an average of under 20 and strike rate of 14 put him 5th in the purple cap rankings. Wrist spinners tend to operate best when batsmen are under pressure to score runs so if DC can add powerplay wickets in 2023 then there’s every chance that Kuldeep can return similar if not better numbers this season.
Of course beyond the on field stats we have to take note of the off-field issues that plagued the Capitals season. The late arrival of players like Anrich Nortje, the injuries to Mitch Marsh and a Covid outbreak in the camp all contributed to the fact that DC managed back to back wins only once during the 2022 season.
Delhi Capitals IPL 2023 auction
The major casualty from the 2022 squad was Shardul Thakur who despite picking up some cheap wickets at the back end of innings generally struggled and given the hefty sum of money he cost during the mega auction, DC have decided that those funds could be better spent looking at back-up options that strengthen their overall squad.
In that regard they have recruited England’s Phil Salt and South African Rilee Rossouw. Both are explosive batsmen who will likely provide cover for Mitch Marsh who is once again out with an injury. Marsh has missed the entirety of the Big Bash season and most of the rest of the Australian summer and it now becomes a race against time to get him fit.
Of course, in Phil Salt, they also have a back-up wicket-keeper which could be crucial given the car accident that Rishabh Pant was involved in late last year and the injuries he sustained as a result.
Elsewhere, Manish Pandey provides experience and versatility while DC also acquired Mukesh Kumar, a bowler who was recently called up to the India T20 squad for the series against New Zealand despite not having appeared in the IPL before. He’s joined by the evergreen Ishant Sharma who as with Pandey you suspect is there mainly as a back-up and safe pair hands should the need arise.
Delhi Capitals Predicted XI
As alluded to above, the opening combination of Prithvi Shaw and David Warner are capable of getting DC off to a fast start. However, the former needs to ensure that he bats on beyond the powerplay more often than not. A flirty thirty is all well and good but it doesn’t tend to represent a match winning knock and if Delhi are to get back into the play offs this season then they’ll need more innings from their top order that can really influence the game.
Warner and Shaw powerplay stats IPL 2022. Of batsmen who faced over 100 deliveries in the powerplay, only Jonny Bairstow scored at a faster rate than both of DC’s openers
Who supports the openers in the top order is then a real question mark. Marsh had key hole surgery on his ankle to remove lose fragments of bone (ankle spurs) and isn’t expected to return to training for another month. That gives him approximately 4 weeks to get fit for the IPL bearing in mind that he won’t have played any competitive cricket since November 2022. It’s also unlikely that he’ll play much part as a bowler given the nature of the injury which will impact the balance of the Delhi squad.
Even greater injury concerns remain over captain and wicket keeper Pant. Initial reports suggest that he won’t be available to play cricket for the remainder of the calendar year after being involved in an horrific car accident last year.
DC released back-up keeper KS Bharat prior to the auction which suggests that Phil Salt will be the man to take up the keeping duties. Despite not having played IPL cricket before, Salt has rich experience on the T20 circuit and has performed well enough to force his way into a very competitive England top order. DC won’t be losing anything in as far as Salt’s belligerent hitting is concerned but he would occupy one of the 4 overseas spots and force a rethink in other departments.
There have been rumours that Delhi could ask Sarafraz Khan to don the gloves although though that would be a high-risk move given that I’m not aware that he has any experience in the role at this level. The former batting prodigy has never really hit the heights expected of him at this level but will be coming into IPL 2023 off the back of a truck load of runs in domestic cricket with 556 runs in the Ranji Trophy at an average of 72 including 3 centuries. If I were the DC management I would be keen to see him take on greater responsibility in this side particularly with the loss of some key players and ideally without the burden of the keeping role.
Further middle order options for Delhi Capitals will be provided by Lalit Yadav who of course offers a right-arm finger spin option too and the aforementioned Manish Pandey who will be playing for his 7th IPL franchise when he dons the red and blue of the Capitals.
Then comes the big hitting Rovman Powell whose biceps are certainly capable of doing some damage to the bowling figures. The West Indian got somewhat found out against high quality wrist spin in the opening part of the 2022 IPL season and while the Capitals would ideally like to get him in up the order to face as many deliveries as possible, he looked at his most effective outside the middle overs when that flaw was less easy to expose.
One final concern that DC have to deal with is the shortage of left-handed options in their middle order. Other than Warner and the injured Pant, all the above mentioned batsmen are right-handed. Delhi do have the talented Rilee Rossouw but again, shoe-horning him into a side where 2 of the overseas spots are already likely to go to Powell and Warner and possibly a third to Salt as a keeper batsmen looks to be an impossible task.
Axar Patel, a capable left-hander, is likely to play a floating role within the batting order as he has done in the past but he is better suited to the later part of an innings and DC’s lack of a thoroughbred leftie in that middle order is a concern.
Further concern comes when you consider the depth of their batting line-up. If Marsh cannot bowl a substantial number of overs and with nothing more than part-time options elsewhere in the top 6, DC are likely to have to play Axar Patel at 7. That’s not such a bad option of if you’ve got a capable number 8 and ideally someone at 9 who can at least swing the willow but the Capitals appear likely to have a very long tail heaping further pressure on the top order to deliver much more in the way of big scores in IPL 2023 than they did last year.
The fast bowling stocks look to be the Capitals real trump card. Anrich Nortje, Chetan Sakariya, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Khaleel Ahmed, Lungi Ngidi, Mustafizur Rahman, Ishant Sharma and Mukesh Kumar are all viable options and Delhi really should get more from their stable of quicks than they did last year particularly when it comes to penetration up front.
Similarly, their spin options look strong. We’ve already mentioned Axar Patel and Lalit Yadav who combine nicely to offer their captain plenty of favourable match-ups and of course the Capitals primary wicket taking option in the middle overs will remain Kuldeep Yadav. The 28-year-old has returned to the India squad as a regular in all 3 formats and has been having success over the last couple of months. With his confidence once again sky-high, DC will hope that the left-arm chinaman bowler can deliver another 20 wicket plus season.
The final question to answer for DC is who will captain the side should Pant be unavailable. The logical option would be David Warner given his experience in the game but it is worth remembering that he was unceremoniously sacked as Sunrisers captain just over a year ago. His removal from the role and ultimately from the starting XI too was partly due to his poor form, and DC really can’t afford for that to happen, but also due to a perceived break down in relationship both with the coaching team at SRH and a few of the young Indian players who didn’t really take his style of leadership.
Most wins as captain in the IPL. Should DC appoint Warner as captain then he is a win away from overhauling fellow Aussie at the most successful captain in IPL history
Warner has always been a bit of a marmite character (or should that be vegemite?) so it’ll be interesting to see how the Capitals squad will react should he be named skipper.
Delhi Capitals IPL 2023 Predictions
The balance and depth of the batting line-up is the major concern for Delhi Capital in IPL 2023.
In fact, you don’t need me to tell you that, you simply have to look at who the franchise tried to sign during the auction but missed out on.
They felt they needed a top 6 batsmen who could bowl (assuming Mitch Marsh can’t) so they bid for Cameron Green and they didn’t get him.
They went after a left-handed middle order batsmen who can keep to replace the injured Pant so they bid for Nicolas Pooran but he ended up at LSG.
Yes, they’ve got some decent options but it’s not immediately apparent how they will fill the gaps left by their injured stars and in a tournament as fiercely contested as the IPL, you don’t get much time to experiment and create that winning formula.
However, they do have a strong squad as far as bowling options are concerned and we’ve seen in many T20 tournaments across the world that if your batting unit can consistently make par scores or slightly above then if you have the wicket taking options at your disposal you are always in with a chance.
I certainly wouldn’t put it past DC to reach the playoffs and we know that those final couple of spots often come down to just net run-rate but I think the deficiencies in their batting and general balance of the XI will see them just miss out.
Predicted finish: 5th