Can big names translate to big-game success for Delhi Daredevils?
The owners of Delhi Daredevils will like to believe they have bought all that money could buy given the spending constraints. A shrewd captain in Mahela Jayawardene, an explosive opener in David Warner, a charismatic batsman in Kevin Pietersen, a constant threat in Virender Sehwag, a middle-order jack-in-the-box in Ross Taylor, the Daredevils have some of the best names Twenty20 cricket can throw up. And the attack comprising Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Andre Russell isn't half bad either.
Yet, Daredevils fans will remind you that the squad composition has never been their problem. It's the big matches that they have blundered in, especially in the IPLs. Good in league, average in knockouts, some will say. It happened in last year's IPL too, when they finished at the top of the table, but lost two Qualifiers to be knocked out of the title race. Even a second bite at the cherry was not good enough for them.
So Daredevils go into yet another tournament as one of the favourites, but also with that big question mark hanging over them. They do have a new captain, Jayawardene, who himself has an uneasy record in tournament finals, having captained Sri Lanka to two World Cup final defeats and having been part of four such final-hurdle failures.
How they qualified
Some will question their direct entry to the tournament, being the third-placed side in the IPL. No other league is allowed three places in the tournament, and a few league winners have had to go through a qualifying tournament. However, these leagues are purely commercial ventures, and it's naïve to complain about moves that make commercial sense. By their own admission, the Champions League T20 depends almost entirely on Indian viewership. The more sides from India the better for the organisers.
There are four big batsmen in the side, but Daredevils have a raw attack. Looking at the pitches in the qualifying tournament, there is help for the bowlers, and Daredevils look a bit thin there. All the onus now is on Morne Morkel to use his knowledge of home conditions and to lead an attack. He has been good when given a free rein thanks to Dale Steyn's control, but now Morkel will have to be the Daredevils' Steyn.
India's Under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand is all set to make a comeback for Daredevils after he played just two matches in the IPL. He has shown remarkable maturity in big matches as an Under-19 player, and will have a key role to play in the line-up because Daredevils can't possibly pack in all the overseas batsmen in the line-up.
Apart from the much-documented problems in big-match environment, Daredevils are without quality spin in their squad. Left-arm spinner Pawan Negi is the only specialist spinner in the squad, and there are no part-timers to speak of either. Sehwag hardly bowls any more, and Warner and Pietersen are as good as each other.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo