After cracking the playoffs in the last two seasons, Delhi will look to start the season 2021 with the tag of favourites. With the good mix-up of young talents and experienced players, Delhi has stepped up as one of the strongest sides of the Indian T20 League 2021. If we pick four random teams for the playoffs, Delhi will also be the choice. Just before the starting of the season, they suffered a big blow as Shreyas Iyer ruled out from the entire season, and the franchise appointed Rishabh Pant as the new skipper of the team. Delhi invested some amount in the auction and they look like a balanced side ahead of the new season.
Performance in last three seasons
Delhi’s performance has been improved since they changed their name. Their identity to showcase Delhi as the capital of India did wonder and credit goes to head coach Rickey Ponting. Delhi finished last in 2018 when Gambhir handed over the captaincy to Shreyas Iyer. The next season delivered big improvement and they made into the playoffs after 6 years. Chennai ended their hopes with a clinical victory in the second qualifier. Ponting’s team updated their game in 2020 with making into the finals but lost to defending champions.
Team after auction 2021
Delhi released some players before the auction in February this year and went for some quality players. They bought former Australian skipper Steve Smith. Two English players Sam Billings and Tom Curran also joined Delhi. To boost the Indian pace-attack, they got experienced, Umesh Yadav. Delhi also picked some young talents through domestic success such as Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwalam, and M Siddharth. Their wicket-keeping option has been solved after the omission of Alex Carey. They have Sam Billings in overseas and Vishnu Vinod in Indian players. They could have gone for an overseas batting-allrounder as the backup for Marcus Stoinis.
Here’s the full squad for Indian T20 League 2021
Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Chris Woakes, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Lalit Yadav, Lukman Meriwala, Manimaran Siddharth, Marcus Stoinis, Praveen Dubey, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin, Ripal Patel, Rishabh Pant, Sam Billings, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Steven Smith, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Vishnu Vinod
How overseas players stand
Delhi’s overseas lineup is led by their two pacers Nortje and Rabada. These two were the pillars of Delhi’s bowling unit in 2020 when Delhi played their maiden Indian T20 League final. They released Carey before the auction and picked in-form Sam Billings. Billings has been consistent for England in ODIs and recently played very well in Australia T20 League. Marcus Stoinis was also terrific last year and Ponting can promote him up in the order like he tried this all-rounder in playoffs last year. Chris Woakes is a good option to try in case of injury and he can offer an all-around option. Shimron Hetmyer had some decent outings last season and he will be a good batsman to try in top-order. Steve Smith can play sheet-anchor in middle-order on tricky surfaces. Delhi has a strong backup for every overseas player and each player will be used according to the pitch.
How the Indian players stand for Delhi
Delhi’s heart is their Indian unit which is terrific comparing to any other team. They have the same balance as Mumbai when it comes to Indian players. Prithvi Shaw lost his form at the midway of the season but he is in top form after smashing a double-century in List-A this year. Rahane would be a good option in the absense of Shreyas Iyer and he can be a handy player to try at number three on tough surfaces. Dhawan was Delhi’s top scorer last season with two centuries and he will bat at the top with Shaw. Pant will come to bat at number four so the Indian top-order is pretty strong for them. They can also pick young talents according to the pitch. Delhi’s spin attack is their main strength as they have three quality spinners like Ashwin, Axar, and Amit Mishra. They have a solid backup for slow tracks. Ishant Sharma missed out the previous season due to injury but he is fine now and Umesh Yadav is already a good option to try with Rabada and Nortje. Ponting can even drop any overseas pacers to bring both Indian seamers which will help Delhi to add more strength.
Weakness of Delhi and how they can overcome these
Delhi is no doubt the strongest side of the tournament and they are favourites for the title this year. Too many big names can create confusion in the team selection. Consistency was missing from top-order players. Delhi tried Shaw, Rahane, and Stoinis with Dhawan but it didn’t work out. The middle-order may collapse and it depends on the success of the top-order. Delhi can not rely on their South African pace-attack as they struggled in the second half of the last season. Stoinis is their only main all-around option and they don’t have a backup. They faced similar issues last year when Pant got injured and they dropped one good overseas player to take overseas wicketkeeper. Iyer’s absense can hurt Delhi in middle-order.
Pitch command as per the new schedule
Delhi will also not take the home advantage this season. They will play their eight matches in Motera and Eden Gardens. Both surfaces suit their bowling combination and they have quality batsmen who can easily sustain there. Their three matches will be played in Mumbai which is a flat track and two matches will be held in Chennai which will require the players like Rahane and Smith in playing XI. They will end their league-stage campaign in Bengaluru. Delhi can feel safe after seeing this favourable schedule.
Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (C & WK), Sam Billings/Hetmyer/Smith, Marcus Stoinis, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada