IPL 2022: Delhi Capitals need more runs from Pant, Shaw

Delhi bowlers need more runs from their top order to defend successfully in batting friendly conditions

DC coach Ricky Ponting and captain Rishabh Pant. (BCCI)
DC coach Ricky Ponting and captain Rishabh Pant. (BCCI)

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Thu 7 Apr 2022, 12:09 AM

Pipped at the finish by Gujarat Titans in their opening match of the season, Lucknow Super Giants showed swift recovery to win their next two games and emerge as one of the strongest teams of the tournament, with all-round depth and balance in both batting and bowling, and players charged up to prove their mettle.

One of the two new teams added to the league from this season, LSG have formed a strong core group quickly, and also seem to have very good bench strength if replacements are needed, which is very likely in a tournament stretching over more than eight weeks and involving 10 teams.

For this, credit must be given to the management and coaching staff for a smart campaign before and during the mega auction to get players who would complement each other and collectively make an impact in different conditions and against all opponents.

A cursory look at the players who are likely to take the field against Delhi Capitals tonight (Thursday) highlights this strength. The batting line-up boasts of KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Ayush Badoni. The bowling attack has Avesh Khan, Dushmantha Chameera, Andrew Tye and Ravi Bishnoi. Strong opening pair, a robust middle-order, pace bowlers with wonderful swing and seam expertise, and a superb young leg spinner gives this team greater depth and variety than any other in the league, and a fine balance between youth and experience.

There’s more. Quality all-rounders Jason Holder and Krunal Pandya enhance the heft in batting and bowling, and remember Marcus Stoinis, among the most coveted T20 players in the world, has yet to make an appearance this season because of quarantine rules.

Moreover, all these players have been in spanking form which makes LSG a formidable opponent, and it will take a special effort from the Capitals to win this match. In the past couple of seasons, DC have been perhaps the most entertaining and dangerous side in the IPL, but with the rejigging of teams after the mega auction, it remains to be seen whether they will have the same sizzle over a longish period of time.

They were impressive in their first match, getting the better of five-time champions Mumbai Indians in spunky style in the death overs. In the next game against Gujarat Titans, however, they were thwarted in a similar kind of run chase, losing by 14 runs.

Going by these two matches, DC are badly missing the services of two key overseas recruits — opener David Warner, a powerhouse in the T20 format, and South African paceman Anrich Nortje, who had been brilliant for the franchise in the past couple of seasons.

Warner has to get his quarantine and other formalities completed. Nortje is on the injured list and likely to remain there longer, which is an even bigger problem. Kagiso Rabada wasn’t retained or bought in the mega auction. His departure coupled with Nortje’s injury, makes DC’s pace attack less potent from the previous season.

Shardul Thakur has been a very good addition to the pace attack, which also includes young pacers Khaleel Ahmed and Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman. Finger spinner Axar Patel, whose record on home pitches is outstanding, is the slow bowling partner for Kuldeep Yadav and both have looked impressive.

But bowlers need more runs from the top order to defend successfully in batting friendly conditions. In skipper Rishabh Pant and his under-19 colleague Prithvi Shaw, DC have brilliant stroke players who can win a match off their own bat without shedding their natural aggression.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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