Botha and Lankan all-rounder Jeevan Mendis will boost the spin department

Much before donning the newly designed blues, Delhi Daredevils is facing plenty of pre-tournament blues.

Kevin Pietersen is unavailable due to an injury issue, Virender Sehwag is going through a slump in his career and captain Mahela Jayawardene will not play the Chennai match due to non-cricketing reasons.

To make matters worse, Jesse Ryder, is hospitalised and is ruled out of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Daredevils, which bounced back after two indifferent seasons, again faces the challenge of overcoming the odds and improving upon its previous performances of reaching the last-four.

Spending wisely

Team owner GMR had spent wisely at the auction after the Daredevils’ think-tank identified the areas of improvement.

It had bought Ryder, who would have filled the void created by Pietersen.

Now, according to team mentor T.A. Sekar, Daredevils would seek a replacement for the big-hitting New Zealander.

Besides, it would also ask for a new bowler in the place of an unfit Varun Aaron.

Daredevils had felt the absence of some quality spinners in the side in the previous season. South African Roelof van der Merwe and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem had taken up the responsibility well.

However, the team bought South African Johan Botha and Sri Lankan all-rounder Jeevan Mendis to boost the spin department.

Trading Kiwi batsman Ross Taylor, who was lacklustre last season, for Pune Warriors speedster and local boy Ashish Nehra helped the side add more teeth to its pace attack.

DD has carefully chosen five domestic players, including Punjab seamer Siddarth Kaul, Karnataka wicketkeeper-batsman C.M. Gautam and Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav.

Umesh is fit again

The side would be happy that its tearaway fast bowler Umesh Yadav is fit and will open the bowling with South African pace ace Morne Morkel.

Seasoned seamers like Ajit Agarkar, Nehra and all-rounders Irfan Pathan and West Indian Andre Russel will also be keen to give their best.

Apart from the big names, David Warner, Venugopala Rao, Naman Ojha and Unmukt Chand will provide solidity to the Daredevils batting.

The team would be delighted that the young Unmukt had given some fine performances, including his title-winning knock in the under-19 World Cup and two recent centuries in the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, in the last one year.

Daredevils will take heart from the fine fielding performances shown by some younger players in the previous edition. The players will be determined to raise the bar this time.

Immediate task

The immediate task before Daredevils is to regroup quickly and look forward to start with a win in its opening game, like last season, against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

However, the biggest difference this year is KKR will enter the tournament with an aim to defend its title.

The battle promises to be intense and may set the tone for the next two months.

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