One team that has consistently failed to inspire any confidence in its supporters for the past three editions of the Indian Premier League is Delhi Daredevils.
Consider this: In 2013, DD finished ninth. In 2014, it was eighth and last year, it was seventh. In these seasons, DD played 44 matches, lost 33 and won just 10! This year, too, it has started with a loss. In its first home game of the season on Friday, DD takes on Kings XI Punjab, which is also looking for its first win after the opening loss at home against Gujarat Lions.
On paper, Kings XI appears a far better side than Daredevils. A formidable batting line-up and a reasonably good attack combine to make Kings XI one of the dark horses in the race for a place in the playoffs. Even if one goes by their head-to-head record, Kings leads DD 9-7.
Though Kings XI finished last in the previous edition, it boasts of a few match-winners, something that the home team lacks. It is baffling to find the kind of players DD opted for in the auction. If it indeed was serious about winning the IPL, its selection of players did not reflect it.
DD’s batting line-up is far from intimidating : It has Mayank Aggarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, to go with flamboyant opener Quinton de Kock and all-rounder J. P. Duminy. To top it all, the think-tank of the team, headed by coach Paddy Upton, considered it value-for-money to invest a whopping Rs. 8.5 crore for Pawan Negi and another 7 crore on Chris Morris. The bowling at the disposal of skipper Zaheer Khan, himself a spent force, looks a shade better. A perpetually injury-prone Mohammad Shami, fellow right-arm pacer Nanthan Coulter-Nile – bought for Rs 4.25 crore each – apart from leg spinners Amit Mishra and South Africa’s Imran Tahir along with Shahbaz Nadeem, Negi and Jayant Yadav.
Overall, the team lacks quality batsmen who can intimidate the opposition. DD, which has lost more matches in the competition than any other, does not promise to improve its record a great deal this season. Lacking in resources, the side cannot expect even a mentor like Rahul Dravid to cast his magic.
This is not to say DD is not going to win matches. Given the nature of the format, every team wins at least a couple of matches. Like in 2014, out of the 14 matches, DD won just two! This year, too, DD looks a perfect candidate to be among the also-rans.