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April 9, 2011
The Delhi Daredevils are dealing with a cliche - the "point to be proved." Or maybe that should be a theory to put to the test. Delhi's IPL formula rests on the belief that Twenty20 is not won on stardom or even high-quality skills. It depends simply on men who can seize not merely the day, but moments and use their individual abilities to short bursts of impact. The reshuffling of players in the auction left the two-time semi-finalists minus not only their big names but also Delhi's own "catchment area" first-class stalwarts. What Delhi are now left with then is a motley crew of outsiders and allrounders. What they are led by, however, is the one man who represents both Delhi-ness and daredevilry, captain Virender Sehwag. What Delhi would want to work to their advantage is having more than bits-and-pieces options in the many 'bits-and-pieces' men on their payroll.
Don't stop the press, (or the tuk-tuk), but Delhi's campaign will begin - but hope it won't end - with Sehwag. All that talk about batting 50 overs in the World Cup, has now turned into quick Viru-style bites: 20 overs and off ya go. The Sehwag-David Warner partnership would want to be the platform-setter for the middle order that has veteran battlers like Venugopal Rao and Sridharan Sriram to follow.
Big name in
Morne Morkel with his pace, height, and now close familiarity with Indian conditions, having had a little wander around India during the World Cup. With quality all-round Indian talent being in short supply, the choice of Irfan Pathan, new and improved, leaner and fitter, could become Delhi's trump card.
Big name out
Not merely one but several: Gautam Gambhir, Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB deVilliers, Daniel Vettori, Paul Collingwood and Dirk Nannes. Delhi's auction plans were built around the argument that they would only retain - read spend money on - players who could win them at least half a dozen games on their own. Given that IPL teams can only feature four overseas players in an XI, that pretty much cleaned Delhi's cupboard of the stars.
Below the radar
If Delhi have to find a Daredevil from their largely unheralded cast, it would have to come from one of the Twenty20 specialists they have signed on from overseas. Not big names, but the team hopes big impact, from Aussies liked Aaron Finch and James Hopes, and South African Robert Frylinck. Keep an eye out for two local teenagers, 17-year-old batsman Unmukt Chand and 18-year-old left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra.
Last three seasons
Delhi have been one of the most consistent teams in the IPL. They have evaded the wild swings of fortune that made the Rajasthan Royals' the first season's celebration men, or kept the Kolkata Knight Riders in the news or gave the Deccan Chargers their Season 2 fairy-tale. They made the semi-finals in the first two seasons, and were beaten for a spot in the 2010 semis by Deccan Chargers on net run-rate. With an unstarry cast, other than Sehwag and Warner, maybe this is the year that Delhi could finally go full stretch.
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