Delhi have had a bizarre season so far in the Indian T20 League. After appearing like the team to beat in their first few games with an impeccable pace attack, Delhi have lost four of their last six matches, including the last three.
That they haven't quite clicked in sync despite Shikhar Dhawan - a player who hadn't stood out at the beginning of the season - appearing in terrific touch shows that Delhi have completely lost the plot in the last few games.
It is true that Rishabh Pant is batting very unlike Pant, and Marcus Stoinis, after an initial heist, is struggling to make runs. Ravichandran Ashwin has looked ordinary in the last few games and Anrich Nortje appears quite a different bowler now to the one that was bowling before the rested game.
What has plagued Delhi mainly is their selection and thinking from Ricky Ponting of late. While their tactics were spot on at the start of the season, team changes have messed up Delhi's template and the team isn't playing like how it should ideally be playing.
The Shaw - Rahane fiasco
Prithvi Shaw has had middling returns this season. He has three scores above 40 and six single-digit scores; those numbers definitely scream out for his non-selection. But the alternative chosen is Ajinkya Rahane, who is neither quick off the blocks nor a wicket preserver.
Rahane's T20 game is itself a mystery and it needs to be questioned why he can be in the starting XI, not scoring runs and not even getting out soon enough. Shaw might be a hit or miss player but can sure win you games when he does take off, and this Delhi side - especially when Rishabh Pant isn't his normal self - is lacking that flair in the line-up.
Rahane's selection over Shaw is baffling, particularly since Marcus Stoinis, who has done well as an opener in the Big Bash League, is in the same squad. His role in itself is a question mark after his initial bubble was burst midway through the season.
Tushar Deshpande's selection
Tushar Deshpande has been consistently poor this season but Delhi have persisted with him for far too long despite having a reasonable domestic fast-bowling bench strength.
Among bowlers to bowl at least 50 deliveries this season, only Ankit Rajpoot and Tom Curran have a worse economy than Deshpande's 11.22 before the game against Hyderabad. In Wednesday's game, he again conceded 35 off three overs.
The fact that they held onto him despite him taking just three wickets is bizarre, especially when they have Avesh Khan - who was discarded too soon - as well as Mohit Sharma and Harshal Patel on the bench.
While Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer seem to be batting with clarity, there seems to be less clarity with the role of the others. Rishabh Pant, after three stellar seasons where he made runs in plenty at a frenetic pace, seems to be unclear about his approach this season as his strike-rate has dropped appallingly. His innate aggression, a major part of his game and success in this format, is sorely missing and Pant seems to be playing to someone's instructions, which clearly isn't working out.
Marcus Stoinis, likewise, seemed to thrive when his role was to simply go after the bowling. When pushed up in crisis situations and then moved around the batting line-up, he seems to have lost sight of the way he should be batting. There seems to be less clarity on his role too.
Shimron Hetmyer has been underused in this line-up and can be used up the order as a floater to take down spin at times.
Even with such talent at their disposal and early success, Delhi seems to have overplanned and compounded their problems. Their losing streak is worrying especially as they haven't qualified yet and are level on points with Mumbai and Bangalore despite having played one game more. Kolkata and Punjab can catch up with them if they win their next fixtures.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Delhi