Betting on the Delhi Capitals might seem strange as they are yet to win an IPL title. But this season may be their best-ever chance.
In this team guide we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the side captained by Shreyas Iyer and why their fortunes may be about to change.
There are eight sides competing in the IPL this year.
Their odds were significantly bigger last year, but the bookmakers obviously took note of their strong campaign and the cut in their price reflects the progress made in 2019. Their formidable batting line-up and army of spinners were a big reason for this.
But are those odds short enough? Maybe not. Their historical performances have been nothing to write home about, but things could be very different this time. They’ve addressed a few imbalances of previous years and rectified areas of vulnerability after having a good time of it at the 2020 auction.
They brought in a few new faces who could make them even stronger. Odds of 8.0 should give you a decent run for your money and if they can finish the group stages in the top 2 and get two bites of the cherry in terms of making the final, they’ll really be in business. Given that last year they finished third on the same points as the Top 2, that’s certainly a distinct possibility.
One thing is for sure: Delhi certainly represent far better value than Virat Kohli’s much-maligned Royal Challengers Bangalore. The mere presence of Kohli and AB de Villiers seems to convince both layers and punters alike that they’re set for a title challenge, but year after year poor bowling and even worse decision-making stops them in their tracks.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have a strong record in this competition though they have gone off the boil somewhat over the past couple of seasons. Still, they have a well-balanced side with plenty of variety in their bowling and if you’ve been watching t20 cricket for the past decade you’ll know that no match is over while Andre Russell is still at the crease.
The Mumbai Indians are the 5.0 favourites, which is hardly surprising given they’re the defending champions, the only side to have won the tournament four times and victors in two of the last three editions.
Well captained by the prolific Rohit Sharma, boasting two of the cleanest hitters in the game in Kieron Pollard and Quinton de Kock and with the added bonus of being able to count on two high-class local all-rounders, the Pandya brothers, they tick every box.
Next come the Hyderabad Sunrisers, where David Warner and Rashid Khan are their big-name stars, and at 6.0, they’re the same price as the Chennai Super Kings. CSK are captained as always by the evergreen MS Dhoni and the secret to their success comes from the familiarity among their players. It’s Chennai’s way to play virtually the same tried and trusted players year after year but it’s a strategy that’s certainly paid dividends in the past.
The big strength in the Delhi Capitals team is the number of Indian top-class specialist batsmen in the side. Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Ajinka Rahane and captain Shreyas Iyer are all currently part of India’s ODI and T20 sides. Privthi Shaw has also won a couple of caps at Test level.
It’s this embarrassment of riches in the local players batting department that means the Delhi Capitals can use their four overseas slots to fill positions where maybe they’re not so strong.
Not quite as blessed in the bowling department, they’ll play South African Kasigo Rabada as their main strike bowler. He’s a good man to have opening the bowling for you and is one of the most sought-after pace bowlers in the game.
Then it’s over to young Nepalese leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane to carry out the role of keeping things tight in those middle overs. Lamichhane’s IPL price of just 28,000 USD made him one of the bargains of the recent IPL auction.
Australian wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey, so impressive in both the ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2019/20 Big Bash, can bat just about anywhere, meaning they’ll play him as a ‘floater’ with where he bats depending on the situation of the game.
The final overseas slot is up for grabs and the English duo of all-rounder, Chris Woakes, and opener, Jason Roy, are in strong contention for it. So is the highly impressive Aussie Marcus Stoinis, who hit a brutal 147 not out in a Big Bash match this season. We’ll have to wait and see how the Delhi Capitals management including head coach Ricky Ponting, decide to go about things.
First impressions of the Delhi Capitals squad are that this batting line-up will be as good as anyone’s in the competition and that they’re well-stocked in the spin department. All of Lamichhane, Ravi Ashwin, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra are very capable performers at t20 level and if the pitch is turning, they can have batsmen in knots.
The concern is therefore in the pace bowling department. Rabada is devastating on his day but Ishant Sharma has never really taken to t20 cricket and Mohit Sharma can blow hot and cold.
Delhi’s best chance is to prepare wickets at home which take spin to make up for their deficiencies when it comes to fast bowling.
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It’s a pretty rich Delhi Capitals roster that Ponting and co can count on but these would be the four players most important to their fortunes this campaign.
Now with a couple of years’ captaincy experience under his belt, Delhi Capitals captain, Iyer, should have no excuses about still trying to find his feet in the job.
He has a big role to play as part of that impressive top order, with Shreyas Iyer’s IPL record showing he has a very healthy strike rate of 130 in the T20 format and that he gets to fifty on a regular basis.
Iyer wasn’t able to stop the rot as captain in his first season in charge after taking over from Gautam Gambhir, with the Delhi Capitals finishing rock bottom in 2018. But he led the team admirably in 2019, the Capitals reaching the play-offs for the first time in seven years under his leadership.
At 34, we’ve probably seen the best of Shikhar Dhawan already but as the saying goes: if you’re good enough, you’re young enough.
One of the most aesthetically pleasing batsmen you’ll ever watch play the game, stylish left-hander Shikhar Dhawan boasts an IPL best score of 97 and is one of those players who can make batting look ridiculously easy.
If there’s one criticism of him, it’s that he can often give his wicket away cheaply after making good starts. But his carefree approach from ball one can also get his side off to a flyer.
Bowling at lightning pace will only get you so far because control is of paramount importance at any level of cricket.
So, when you can bowl rapidly without losing your accuracy, like Wasim Akram or Brett Lee in yesteryear, you’ve got yourself a serious bowler. And when it comes to accuracy, Rabada looks a far better bowler than he did a couple of years ago.
The other area where Rabada has massively improved of lately is in terms of out-thinking batsmen. In the past it was just a case of bowling as fast as he could but now, he’s able to work out how to get batsmen out with subtle variations of pace, line and length. In some ways, he’s the Delhi Capitals player they can least afford to be without.
The Delhi Capitals look a side best suited to chasing, rather than batting first. There will be times when they’re going to be expensive with the ball but with so much power and class in their batting line-up, they won’ be afraid of chasing just about anything. If they have a bad bay with the bat first up, they’re unlikely to have the bowling resources to defend 170 or less.
The Delhi Capitals are not one of the IPL’s high-flyers. They’ve contested every single edition since the inaugural season back in 2008 and are yet to make a final.
They finished fourth and first in the group stages in the first two editions with the Indian trio of Dhawan, Gambhir and Virender Sehwag providing a luxurious top three that got the side off to many a good start. But on both occasions, they were knocked out at the semi-final stage.
In 2010 and 2011 they failed to make it out of the group stages but in 2012 they made the play-offs again after topping the group. They got two bites of the cherry and only needed to beat either the Kolkata Knight Riders or the Chennai Super Kings in order to make the final. They failed to win either.
The one they really should have won was the Qualifier 1 when they were set a very chaseable 163 against Kolkata, only for a top order collapse to leave just Mahela Jayawardene to row against the tide, while his other batting partners came and went. His 40 off 33 balls wasn’t enough to get them over the line.
The next six seasons were riddled with failures. Remarkably, in each of those six seasons they somehow managed to finish rock bottom in each. This is why their third-place finish in the Group stages last year was such a significant upturn in fortunes for a side who has suffered so much over the years.
A narrow victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad saw them just one game away from the final but the Chennai Super Kings restricted them to just 147, which was never going to be enough. The wait goes on.
They will have learnt plenty from last year’s close call and there’s no reason why they can’t keep on improving. What’s really refreshing is how they’ve gambled on youth so that even if it they don’t come good this season, they’ll progress as a unit over the next few years.
Highest Team Total
In April 2011, the Delhi Capitals posted their highest ever total in an IPL match of 231 runs, batting first. Freakishly, David Warner and Virender Sehwag both scored exactly 77 runs each to get them off to a flyer with Y Rao adding another 28 runs off just 15 balls. The Kings XI made an excellent fist of chasing their target, eventually getting to 202 after 20 overs, but fell short.
Given their lack of success over the years, awards have been somewhat thin on the ground for Delhi’s players. But Delhi’s giant South African fast bowler Morne Morkel, one of the Delhi Capitals’ best players, managed to top the bowling charts in 2012, after taking 25 wickets.
In 2018 Rishabh Pant came close to picking up the Orange Cap for most runs; only Kane Williamson scored more than his 684.
Top 3 facts about the Delhi Capitals
Now we’ve gone through all the numbers and essential info, it’s time to round up how we think the Delhi Capitals might fare this campaign.
So, do the Capitals have what it takes to go all the way this year?
The big trump card of the Delhi Capitals team is their batting. Dhawan, Shaw, Iyer, Rahane, Pant and Carey is as good a batting line-up as you’ll see in the IPL this year, with the added advantage of it being a perfect 3/3 split of right-handers and left-handers.
In Patel, Mishra, Ashwin and Lamichhane they can field a spin quartet who all bowl slightly differently and can keep things tight.
They do however look a bit limited when it comes to fast bowlers so going to battle on spinning wickets will play into their hands. The other concern is their lack of experience of playing knockout games, meaning it would do them no harm to play a couple of very close matches in the group stages in preparation for that eventuality.
The Capitals are owned by the GMR Group, an infrastructural company, and the JSW Group, one of India’s largest businesses.
They changed their name to the Capitals (from the Daredevils) to reflect the importance of the city of Delhi as the capital of India.
Batsman Shreyas Iyer will start his third season as the team’s full-time captain.
Virender Sehwag took a record 30 catches in 86 matches between 2008 and 2013.