From boom to bust for Daredevils
Where they finished
Ninth in a league of nine teams, a shocking result for a team that dominated the league stages last year. But their ranking is not entirely out of place when you look at Delhi Daredevils' standings across all six seasons. For the second time in three years they've finished at the bottom of the table, after being semi-finalists in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Much like a roller coaster at an amusement park, sharp dives always seem to be just around the corner for the team.
What went right
In a largely gloomy season, there were some bright spots. Daredevils halted their disastrous run of six straight losses in this season with a performance that revived memories of their dominance last year; Against Mumbai Indians, Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene took advantage of some shoddy bowling to post a thumping nine-wicket win.
They also had a pleasant outing at their 'adopted' home venue in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, winning both games there against Pune Warriors and Kolkata Knight Riders. The common contributing factor in both wins: David Warner.
What went wrong
Kevin Pietersen's knee problem and the grevious assault on Jesse Ryder left Daredevils without two big-hitters but they suffered more on account of other injuries and inconsistency. Virender Sehwag missed a couple of games at the start due to back trouble, while Mahela Jayawardene, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan were coming into the season after injury lay-offs.
The sight of key players scratching around for runs and wickets didn't do much for their confidence. Morne Morkel struggled for form and the South African ended up with a bowling average of 47.85, the worst among bowlers (a minimum of 10 innings) in the league stage of the IPL. Umesh Yadav finished as the highest wicket-taker for Daredevils but also conceded 508 runs, the first bowler in the history of IPL to concede 500 runs in a single season.
Their batting woes were just as exhaustive. The younger batsmen found themselves under pressure after Sehwag and Jayawardene failed to get going and, apart from the occasional knock from Unmukt Chand and Warner, a collective failure took the wheels off their campaign.
Daredevils may also have under-utilised their foreign signings in Johan Botha, Roelof van der Merwe and Ben Rohrer.
In the previous season, David Warner blasted 256 runs in eight matches. This season, by his T20 standards, was a sedate one. With 410 runs in 16 matches at an average of 31.53, Warner was easily the best of the Daredevils' batsmen in spite of his own up-and-down form. He was expected to get Daredevils off to roaring starts but as they suffered loss after loss, he was bumped down to the middle order where he scored more than half his runs.
Having led the team since the Champions League T20 last year, after Virender Sehwag stepped down, Mahela Jayawardene was expected to guide the side through to the playoffs, at least. Things, however, went quite wrong for him as a batsman and a captain. An injury during a first-class game forced him out of Sri Lanka's series against Bangladesh, meaning he came into this tournament cold. He went on to score 331 at an average of 22.06, his runs coming at a poor strike rate of 105. 75. He also struggled as a captain, failing to inspire his team as they stumbled from one loss to another.
Before this season, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem had played 17 matches for Delhi Daredevils in two years. This time, Nadeem and another young left-arm spinner, Pawan Negi, were the only specialist spinners in a squad filled with part-timers and allrounders. The highest wicket-taker for Jharkhand in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy, Nadeem carried his form into the IPL. Playing 12 out of Daredevils' 16 games, he picked up nine wickets at 28.77 (the average being second only to the experienced Ashish Nehra among the Daredevils bowlers who played 10 or more games) and kept the runs in check to finish with an economy rate of 5.88 - the best for the team.
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Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo