Delhi Daredevils IPL 2014 preview April 14, 2014

Fresh start for Daredevils and Pietersen

The Preview by Alagappan Muthu

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Agarkar: Daredevils to make top four comfortably

Likely first XI

1 M Vijay, 2 Kevin Pietersen (capt), 3 Ross Taylor/JP Duminy, 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Saurabh Tiwary, 6 Manoj Tiwary, 7 Jimmy Neesham/Nathan Coulter-Nile, 8 Wayne Parnell 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Rahul Sharma.

2013 finish

Last place. Began the season with a six-match losing streak and couldn't recover. It was their second wooden spoon.

Big Picture

Rebirth is the overwhelming theme of Delhi Daredevils this season. They have dispensed with a squad that succumbed during crunch moments and repaired that shortcoming by investing in Kevin Pietersen - a man reputed to unfurl his best when direly needed - as their captain and Gary Kirsten - a man who has a World Cup and the Test championship mace on his resume - as coach.

They also re-enlisted some old friends at the auction. Dinesh Karthik's 1741 runs are the most by an Indian wicketkeeper, barring MS Dhoni. He returned to his IPL roots and was such a priority for Daredevils that he ended up the second-highest buy of the season. Ross Taylor conveyed relief over being back in familiar surrounds, but he will face stiff competition from JP Duminy, whose comparatively lesser boundary-clearing ability is compensated by more than handy offspin. With Daredevils having recorded their two worst totals in IPL history in 2013, the trio's enterprise under pressure completes a settled batting line-up.

What Daredevils don't possess is depth in spin bowling, a resource that gained value during the World T20. Rahul Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem are known more for their rigorous discipline than spitting turn and their eight overs gain further significance considering they have minimum back-up.

The fans might still pine for Virender Sehwag, but his unpredictability was decided to be too much of a luxury. In his stead comes M Vijay, another of the more successful openers in IPL. But it will be interesting to see how he fares on his first transfer away from Chennai Super Kings.

Big players

For someone who was ousted from international cricket, Kevin Pietersen is quite upbeat. He welcomed the challenge of captaincy, bolstered by the experience gained over a decade at the top-level. His ability is beyond question, but how would he combat four months' lack of match-practice, and a finger injury in the lead-up to the tournament?

"Promising, but wayward," sums up the Daredevils' seam attack. Mohammed Shami, who forms a crucial part of it, is a rare property in IPL cricket - an Indian fast bowler who actually is fast. He can also generate early swing, but has been known to come second best if the batsmen are willing to take him on.

Bargain buy

Ross Taylor is already eager to harness his good form over the New Zealand summer. A price tag of Rs 2 crore (US$ 333,000) seems a steal for a man who hit three consecutive Test centuries - including a maiden double - and two match-winning ODI tons on the trot in the last five months.


No international commitments on the horizon.


"It's nice to come back to a franchise that I am familiar with. Going to three franchises in three years was a little disruptive."
Ross Taylor was not keen to get back on the road again


8/1 - sixth favourite, ahead only of Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders
Odds provided by Bet365

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo