Delhi Capital are currently on the verge of finishing another unsuccessful campaign in the Indian Premier League. The Capitals have recorded just four wins from the 12 matches and after losing another match from seemingly winning position against the Punjab Kings now they are at the bottom of the table . Two wins from their remaining two games will still take them to just 12 points whereas four teams are already on more points in the table.
In 16 seasons including this one Delhi Capitals have played in the IPL final only oncein 2020. And except a few playoff appearances here and there they have familiar tales of failure to show. However, their dip in form this season is quite shocking, and the management would look to rectify many things.
Coaching and Management
Starting with the management and the coaches, the Capitals have two of the best captains of their era Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly as the Head Coach and Director of Cricket respectively. They have Pravin Amre as their batting coach who is well respected in domestic circuit and many Indian players have taken help from him when required. It is a mystery how even Amre could not solve the batting problem for the entire team and specific players like Prithvi Shaw and Manish Pandey. Other big names in the coaching unit are Ajit Agarkar, Shane Watson and James Hopes. For Agarkar and Watson, it is their first coaching job in IPL and may be some experience will help them to perform better in their job.
Absence of Pant
The accident of Rishabh Pant was a big blow for the Capitals. Pant faced a terrible car accident in December 2022 which took him out of the game for an extended period. Pant was Delhi Capitals captain and their main talisman. control the middle overs as well as death overs thanks to his big hitting capabilities and finishing ability. His absence has been a big miss. The Capitals management tried to fill in this ‘Pant’ size gap in the 2023 Auction by opting for Manish Pandey and Rilee Rossouw for a combined price of INR 7 Crore. They later also picked up the Bengal wicket keeper batter Abhishek Porel as back up but all three failed miserably. Pandey scored just 160 runs in 9 innings with an average below 20. Rossouw scored even lower and failed to reach fifty even once. Porel was given four chances and although his keeping was neat, he could score just 33 runs and did not look settled.
Struggle with Batting
Overall batting has been Delhi Capital’s weakest suit with none of their batters looked in form. David Warner was given the captaincy responsibility and although he top-scored for them the strike rate was in mid-120 and that spark of prime Warner was missing. He also failed in many critical situations and most of the time his wicket triggered a collapse. Phill Salt is their new acquisition and one of the positives from this season. He played a match winning innings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and looked like someone on whom they could invest for future. Otherwise, all their main batters failed and their knack of playing too many dot balls during the middle overs did not help. It is a testament to their batting troubles that Axar Patel who mostly batted below number six is their second highest scorer. Even the team management decision to bat Axar too low in most of the matches also did not help.
The other sad story for them was terrible form of Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan. The Mumbai duo were coming off a brilliant domestic season but found wanting in the IPL. Clearly it looked like the opponent bowlers had their plan set up for them and they could not deliver in the IPL. Shaw scored just 47 runs in 6 matches and Sarfaraz did slightly better by scoring 53 runs in 4 matches. However, both lost their place in the first eleven and might not get another chance this season.
Bowling Lacks Planning
Their bowling did slightly better but lacked planning. In the 2022 Auction, they picked up eight pace bowlers and pace bowling all-rounders. They opted for two more Indian pace bowlers in Ishant Sharma and Mukesh Kumar and could not use their resources properly. Anrich Nortje was not utilized to get the best out of his potential. He missed a few matches due to injury and personal reason but in the eight matches he played, he was not given the new ball in most of those and could not make the expected impact in middle overs and death overs conceding runs at nearly 9 per over. Mustafizur Rahman was also a big failure for them playing just two matches and giving away runs at 11.28 per over. They tried Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar and Ishant Sharma but none of them played continuously and failed to lead the pack. Moreover, none of them have taken even 10 wickets. Lungi Ngidi even did not get a chance to play.
Both Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel picked up 10 wickets each but did not make the same impact as last year. They also have too many fringe players like Lalit Yadav, Ripal Patel, and Aman Khan who could not deliver consistently and hence they never performed as a team.
Delhi Capitals need to plan for next season from now and need to identify the gaps they need to fill. A couple of top order batters and impactful bowlers will be a priority for them. But with another mini-auction in 2024, how they can improve their squad, that will be interesting.