Delhi had a rollicking start to the 2020 edition of the Indian T20 League alongside Mumbai, and their pace attack, led by the South African duo of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, was the toast of the opening few weeks.
However, Delhi have lost three of their last five matches, including the last two, and face Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bangalore in their last three games; all tough fixtures.
Delhi are all but certain of qualifying unless they muddle up big time, but beyond that, if they are to make a strong claim for the title this season, there are major loopholes in tactical thinking as well as squad selection that need to be sorted.
The Shaw - Rahane conundrum
Delhi made the strange choice of dropping Prithvi Shaw for Ajinkya Rahane for the game against Kolkata on Saturday. While Shaw has been hit or miss, Rahane's two outings yielded nothing and his general strike-rate in this format of the game does not really suit Delhi, who are in need of more enforcers. Shaw, even if a heedless player at times, has match-winning capabilities and gets off the blocks quickly, which helps Shikhar Dhawan tempo his innings better. There's no real question as to who should open alongside Dhawan at this point.
Freeing up Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant has had a very strange season so far. His batting strike-rate has taken a major hit in 2020 compared to previous years in the league. Since 2016, when he first played the Indian T20 League, this is the first time Pant has a strike-rate below 130.
2016 - 130.26
2017 - 165.61
2018 - 173.60
2019 - 162.67
2020 - 117.29 (after 8 matches)
Pant has looked very self-restrained and the natural flair and panache that is ingrained in him seem to be absent. Freeing him up is essential for Delhi as they seem to lack a middle-overs big-hitter who can take on pace and spin alike.
Returns from Marcus Stoinis have also gone down in the last few games and the mojo with which he started is missing.
Using Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin, like a lot of his Delhi mates, had a rather good start to the season even after he returned from injury. But in his last three games, Ashwin has conceded at over 10 runs per over twice. Not bowling to favourable match-ups and giving him the middle overs in a premeditated fashion has hurt him. Against Kolkata, he was consistently pitted against Sunil Narine who has had the better of him in this format previously. Against Chennai, he bowled mostly to right-handers - Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson - when they were well set.
Switching Ashwin back to his Powerplay spells might be in the offing. He can be an effective option to take down most lefties too in the middle overs as he did against Punjab when he sent back Gayle.
Tushar Deshpande has conceded runs 11.21 runs per over and has had added little to the existing Delhi attack. They have options in Harshal Patel - who can also bat - and Avesh Khan on the bench and perhaps it's time to let go of Deshpande who hasn't quite performed well enough to retain his spot.
The other option is to sit out one of either Shimron Hetmyer or Marcus Stoinis to play Sandeep Lamichhane and increase depth in their bowling attack. While this will mean they are a batsman short, Delhi have a strong top-order and have often underutilised the options in the middle-order this season. With bowling being their evident strength, it is probably worth it to push that strength further.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Delhi