Delhi reached the playoffs in Indian T20 League last year, but can they do it once again?
After a promising performance in the last season, Shreyas Iyer-led Delhi ooze confidence ahead of a new Indian T20 League edition. After struggling through seven successive seasons, Delhi finally managed to break the shackles and record their first entry into the play-offs since 2012.
Led by their young brigade, Delhi for once seemed to have a plan up their sleeves. They were ruthless in the group stages when they found match-winners in all situations and made it to the playoffs. They eventually made some good additions, if not a few too many, in the auction and arrive with a strong squad for the 2020 edition.
Consistency will be Delhi's key issue and aside from Shreyas Iyer, the rest of the squad hasn't really had the best of times across leagues and international cricket.
Last 3 seasons - WIN/LOSS record
2017 - 6 wins, 8 losses
2018 - 5 wins, 9 losses
2019 - 10 wins, 6 losses
The time gap between two of their latest play-offs shows why Delhi are probably the worst franchise in the history of the league. That said, the change in 2019 seemed to be one for the future given that it comes with a rather young squad base. Can they live up to that reputation this season?
Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Kagiso Rabada, Keemo Paul, Mohit Sharma, Lalit Yadav, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, R Ashwin, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Sams, Rishabh Pant, Alex Carey, Shimron Hetmyer, Tushar Deshpande
Top run-scorers (last 3 seasons)
Rishabh Pant - 1538 runs
Shreyas Iyer - 1212 runs
Prithvi Shaw - 598 runs
Top wicket-takers (last 3 seasons)
Amit Mishra - 33 wickets
Kagiso Rabada - 31 wickets
Chris Morris (no longer in the team)- 26 wickets
Trent Boult (no longer in the team)- 23 wickets
Pat Cummins (no longer in the team)- 15 wickets
Sandeep Lamichhane - 13 wickets
Batting is Delhi's strong point this time around too. Aside from the formidable young batting trio of Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant - who are their top three run-getters in the last three seasons combined - Delhi have added the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer to further their firepower. It remains to be seen how many of them fit into their scheme of things but Delhi sure have options.
Playing around with their spin options is another feasible move for Delhi. With Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichhane already present, they chose to add Ravichandran Ashwin to stock up on spin, an area they need enough arsenal considering the slow, low wickets in UAE.
Delhi's strength is their weakness too. While they have a plethora of batting options available, using them right will be a huge challenge. Add in experienced players like Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane and you have a potpourri that is difficult to ooze the right fragrance unless perfectly scented. That in itself is Delhi's biggest challenge this season. Fitting in some of those overseas batters and getting the best out of their Indian batsmen - both young and experienced - will decide Delhi's season. To compound their woes, the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant aren't in the best of form.
Delhi have a strong squad base, some excellent individual cricketers and recent form behind them. However, such is the overdose of players available to them that they might mess up in finding the right player balance. All said and done, they look good enough for another playoff berth this time around.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam