Out of all the eight initial franchises in the IPL, Delhi Capitals (DC) is the only one that hasn't made it to the final, ever. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) has had a change in ownership, but both Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad have won the trophy. Despite all the trolls, Royal Challengers Banglore (RCB) has the three runners-up tag. Everyone but Delhi Capitals!
So when it comes to the most underperforming franchise in Indian Premier League (IPL), there's never really a doubt while putting forward Delhi's name. But the year 2020, may change fortunes for the good.
The Delhi Capitals franchise which over the past three seasons has boasted a core of supremely talented young players has finally been able to find the right balance in their squad. Pretty much evident with DC's performances this season so far. Something that every champion team has. Something which they were missing in the past seasons.
Even if we look as close as 2019, some major differences are visible in the way the Delhi Capitals operate.
With the batting, DC have gone ahead with the same players that they had last season. Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw as openers followed by Shreyas Iyer and ideally a Rishabh Pant at number four. What has been noticeable is that Shaw and Shikhar have been able to provide a steady start to Delhi Capitals, more often than not with 179 and 127 runs respectively in five games so far. Also including three fifty-plus opening stands.
Captain Shreyas Iyer at number three and is the highest run-scorer for Delhi Capitals so far in the tournament with 181 runs in five games that include his cracker of an innings (88*) against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Sharjah.
Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been given his preferred role to blast the run-rate when he comes in to bat, which has paid dividends as Pant has scored 171 in his five innings. Although he hasn't scored a single half-century so far, the DC batsman has been dealing in fours and sixes, which has benefitted DC's scoring rate immensely. As the tournament progresses, one can only expect more from Pant.
When Delhi Capitals played last season, Pant was the only one to look at when it came to closing matches. This is where the inclusion of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis comes into play. Stoinis has been able to take some pressure off Pant and he started doing so from the very first game that he played by scoring 53 off 21 balls against Kings XI Punjab. His knock against RCB was off similar nature and in T20 cricket if a batsman does it twice in the space of five games, you're bound not to take it as a coincidence.
Stoinis also provides his captain with an additional bowling option which is so crucial in the modern game. Apart from Stoinis, Caribbean southpaw, Shimron Hetmyer has also displayed his big-hitting ability in the blue.
When it comes to their bowling department, Delhi faced a similar issue last season. South African spearhead, Kagiso Rabada took 25 wickets in 12 matches during his first season with Delhi Capitals at an average of 14.72. The next best bowling average was of his fellow Proteas, Chris Morris, 23.53. It was difficult for the Delhi captain, Shreyas Iyer to utilize Rabada well in the death overs.
This season though that front looks taken care of. The inclusion of Anrich Nortje has successfully given Iyer the liberty to bring keep three overs from Rabada for the end. Maybe even more. And it's not just Rabada who's performing. Nortje has taken seven wickets in five games so far. Although Rabada still leads the wickets and the average chart, balance in the bowling is clear and visible.
In the game at Sharjah against KKR, while Rabada conceded 51 off his four overs and took just one wicket, his fellow Proteas pacer stepped up with 3/33 in his quota of four. Almost as good as perfect in a small ground that has made 200 a generic total in the UAE.
Although the exit of Amit Mishra from IPL 2020 due to injury will hurt Delhi Capitals severely during their IPL 2020 as the leggie looked in fine touch, the options are not over yet. Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin look in fine touch, even with the new ball. The duo has taken four and three wickets respectively so far. Axar was also adjudged man of the match against RCB for his spell of 2/18 in four overs. And when the chips are down, the two can bat as well making them legitimate 3-D options in the modern game.
With four wins out of five so far and new avenues opening with every single game, DC look set to change the usual, and fight to the very end of IPL 2020. (This article is brought to you by Cricketnews,com )