One does not need an expert to ascertain that Delhi Daredevils has been the most inconsistent side in the last six editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The team, which finished twice at the top, bottom and middle of the points table, desperately needed an overhauling after its forgettable ninth place performance last season.
Tactically driven, the owners opted to start from scratch even though it involved axing Virender Sehwag after a six-year association.
Roping in the highly successful Gary Kirsten as the chief coach of the team was the first step forward.
Thereafter, everything had to revolve around the South African’s plans, including the formation of a new squad.
Clearly, Kirsten did not want any baggage from the past. Nevertheless, he needed some inspirational figures and game changers to revive the team’s fortune.
England’s loss was Daredevils gain! With English superstar Kevin Pietersen fully available for the season, Kirsten did not have to search for a bigger source of inspiration. Pietersen, who had played some fabulous knocks to help DD give a thumping performance and top the table in 2012, would like to resume his good work with the side as the captain and batting mainstay.
DD’s batting depth is a bit understated. While Kiwi star Ross Taylor, Murali Vijay, all-rounder J.P. Duminy and Dinesh Karthik demand some attention, a bunch of fine Indians — such as Manoj Tiwary, Kedar Jadhav, Mayank Agarwal, Jayant Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary and the lone Delhi lad Milind Kumar — promise stability.
Apart from Duminy, useful all-rounders such as Jimmy Neesham of New Zealand and seasoned Bengal player Laxmi Ratan Shukla inspire confidence.
Loaded with nine pacers — including rising Indian speedster Mohammad Shami, Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jaydev Unadkat, Siddharth Kaul and Wayne Parnell — DD may face a delightful problem while finding right combinations against different opponents.
The spin department may appear to be the weak link of the side. Along with Duminy, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem are the primary tweakers the team has to reply upon.
But DD has a few batsmen, including Pietersen, who can operate as part-time spinners. DD spent a whopping Rs. 12.5 crore to ensure the ‘homecoming’ of Dinesh Karthik.
With the talented South African wicketkeeper-batsman Qinton de Cock also in the side, it will be interesting to see how the team management accommodates both.
Amidst trial and error, DD has to be a little consistent to realise its potential.
The squad: Kevin Pietersen (captain), Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Mohammad Shami, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Quinton de Kock, Manoj Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, J.P. Duminy, Ross Taylor, Kedar Jadhav, Rahul Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Laxmi Ratan shukla, Jimmy Neesham, Wayne Parnell, Shahbaz Nadeem, Saurabh Tiwary, Siddharth Kaul, Rahul Shukla, Jayant Yadav, H.S. Sharath and Milind Kumar.
BEST FINISHES: Third in 2012; Semifinalist in 2009; Fourth in 2008.
WIN-LOSS RECORD: Played: 88, Won: 42, Lost: 44, No result: 2.
TOP PERFORMERS: Leading run-getter: Virender Sehwag (2382 in 86 matches); Highest wicket-taker: Morne Morkel (51 in 41 matches)
WATCH OUT FOR
Kevin Pietersen, a stylish batsman who can leave everyone spellbound with his audacious strokeplay, impresses with his effervescent attitude.
At every level, Pietersen has been an impact player — a larger than life figure. For him, IPL was no exception. In 2012, Pietersen’s sterling performance for DD, which included an unbeaten century and a staggering average of 61, had won him many fans. Sporting the Royal Challengers Bangalore colours in 2010, he had hammered 236 runs in seven matches and his average of 59 was the highest that season. The snubbing back home must have hurt the star and may derive the best out of him in IPL-7.