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Why Gambhir had few options but to quit as Daredevils captain

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How much is Gambhir's sub-100 strike rate costing Delhi Daredevils? (1:16)

Gautam Gambhir might have resigned from captaincy, but it's his batting that has been costing his side so far (1:16)

Poor batting form

Gautam Gambhir stepped down as the Delhi Daredevils captain on Wednesday, after his side had lost five of their first six games this IPL season, but the problem was his batting. According to ESPNcricinfo's new metrics for T20 cricket, Gambhir has been among the three worst specialist batsmen this season. His strike rate of 96.59 in five innings (85 runs off 88 balls) translates to a Smart Strike Rate of only 50.44, and when compared to the other batsmen's performance in those games, Gambhir has actually cost Daredevils about 40 runs.

In Daredevils' home fixture against Kings XI Punjab on Monday, Gambhir was dismissed for 4 off 13 balls and his team eventually lost by four runs, off the final ball. Gambhir's scored -7 Smart Runs in that match, which means his time at the crease - in the context of how the others played in that match - cost Daredevils seven runs, more than their eventual margin of defeat.

Gambhir has struggled against pace this season, and his opponents have picked up on that susceptibility quickly. His strike rate is only 70 against the quicks, and a fast bowler has dismissed him in four out of five innings. Gambhir has also averaged a boundary once every 15 balls against pace this season; across his entire IPL career he has hit one every six balls.

Gambhir's strike rate against spin this season is 153.50, but after facing 25 balls of spin during his 55 off 42 in his first game against Kings XI, he has faced only three more deliveries of spin in his next four innings.

Who could replace Gambhir the batsman?

Only three batsmen have scored three T20I tons, and one them is on the Daredevils bench. Colin Munro was dropped after playing only two matches this season; he was dismissed for 4 in the first, and run out without facing a ball in the second. He could be given a second chance at the top in place of Dan Christian, with allrounder Vijay Shankar slotting into the middle order.

Another option is to blood Manjot Kalra, the Delhi and India Under-19 batsman, as a like-for-like replacement for Gambhir. Kalra's last competitive outing was the Under-19 World Cup final against Australia in February, when he scored a match-winning hundred in a chase. There's Naman Ojha too, but he had a poor 2017 season with Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Was Shreyas Iyer the best choice as captain?

Iyer, 23, was one of three players retained by Daredevils ahead of the 2018 auction, and is one of three Indian players who have played regularly for them this season - Rishabh Pant and Rahul Tewatia are the other two. However, he has not had long-term captaincy experience at the senior level previously: he led India A against New Zealand A last year, and also captained a Board President's XI against the New Zealand senior side.

The other options, Glenn Maxwell and Pant, have had captaincy experience at Kings XI Punjab and Delhi (in the Ranji Trophy), respectively, but neither was outstanding.