Last season was somewhat of a disappointment for IPL’s Delhi residents as they fell short of the play-offs for a fourth consecutive season but times could be changing for the Upton-Dravid led side who’s diverse player pool is ripe for the duo’s tactical nous.
Establishing the core
The Delhi Daredevils thinktank, led mainly by Rahul Dravid adopts a flexible approach to line-ups based on match situation, pitch conditions, opposition etc. so can be a very tricky outlet to pick fantasy wise, however, there is one fantasy stalwart.
Quinton de Kock played all but one of the Daredevils’ 2016 games and should be the base of the Delhi batting line-up, or at least will be prior to his early departure of IPL10.
The South African seems like a somewhat boom or bust type of player, he looks able enough to convert his starts into 40-60 scores but only truly showed his match-winning ability in a chase at the M. Chinnaswamy, the home of RCB. Saying that, his stats when chasing are much better than when he has to open the game. “In 8 innings chasing, de Kock scored 40+ on 6 occasions whilst registering just the solitary 40+ score when batting first in five innings.” Subsequently you can interpret de Kock as a somewhat toss dependent player who loves to plan his innings and has a high success rate in doing so, in terms of being your ‘Power Player’ i’d potentially avoid when batting first but when chasing he should be a prime candidate for the Daredevils.
There will be somewhat of a tussle between the flexible Sam Billings and former captain JP Duminy for a top order slot. Billings has shown his ability to bat anywhere in a T20 line-up, usually in the middle order but opening in recent outings in the Big Bash and Pakistan Super League, his excellent footwork against spin makes him a prime option to negotiate the middle overs of an IPL game. JP Duminy had an excellent 2015 campaign for the double D’s but was used sparingly in last years edition and generally down the order, failing to recognise Duminy’s ability to accelerate the innings. Both would be prime fantasy options batting inside the top four for the Daredevils but this isn’t a given with Delhi’s thinktank so you’re better off waiting. There could be a scenario in which neither player plays and DD opt for a second overseas all-rounder so take caution in selecting either of the top order duo.
In terms of Indian batting talent Delhi have a lot of it, in fact maybe too much of it, or at least too much to truly interpret who the likely starters will be and where they’ll bat. ‘Filling the Blanks’ will cover the scenarios in which each Indian player will be a fantasy option as they lack a true ‘stud’ in this department compared to fellow IPL sides.
Delhi are stacked with foreign all-rounders after adding Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews to Chris Morris and Carlos Brathwaite in the draft. Saying that, the current make-up of the line-up suggests that only one or two of the four will be in the starting eleven and even then will they be capable of producing fantasy points?
Chris Morris is the best bet with his finishing skills and economical bowling but once more calling this one before we get a good look at the team would be foolish as he may not be given the opportunity to truly showcase his capabilities with the bat. Angelo Mathews has issues handling the pacers and DDs strength up the order suggests that a role at #4, where he can adeptly slog the spinners, is somewhat out of reach and he wouldn’t be a worthwhile investment as a result. Likewise for Corey Anderson, who will be incapable of playing his usual knocks from this far down the order, with injury issues his career has stagnated and his bowling has taken a tumble, his days as a fantasy choice look somewhat numbered among the plethora of overseas all-round talent in Delhi. Carlos Brathwaite has unfinished business in Delhi, he simply didn’t play enough games or face enough balls last season to be truly destructive and his bowling leaves a lot to be desired. Opportunities should arise for the all-round department but will they have the ability to capitalise?
New 500 lakh signing Kagiso Rabada will likely take up the overseas bowling option should he overcome Aussie quick Pat Cummins and his skills with both the new ball and at the death make him a worthwhile fantasy option, as most good new ball/death bowlers are. In ageing pacer and captain Zaheer Khan, quick Mohammed Shami and Indian spinners in Amit Mishra, Jayant Yadav and Murugan Ashwin there are flexible options for Dravid & Upton. Expect Shami & Zaheer to be fitness dependent pace picks alongside Rabada and one of the bowling all-rounders. Wicket-taking legspinner Amit Mishra is one of very few surefire Indian picks, without Imran Tahir there will be pressure on Mishra to strike in the middle overs with similar potency to the #1 bowler in T20 cricket. Leg spinner Murugan Ashwin was very expensive in last years IPL so i’d expect right arm off-spinner Jayant Yadav to get the initial start and form a partnership with Mishra in the middle overs, with Duminy occasionally bowling if the pitch requires a third spinner.
Filling the Blanks
Besides from the overseas batters, the Daredevils host an array of young Indian batsman who can play flexible roles. Wicketkeeper Sanju Samson is still just 22 and the youngest player to 1000 IPL runs, Samson opened the innings 3 times last year but is more suited to a middle order role. His six-hitting ability should make him an ‘impact player’ but coming in too early against a swinging ball will lead to an early departure. He’s a situational talent and to enhance his fantasy impact hopes are that Samson will be played as more of a ‘finisher’ this season.
Shreyas Iyer was a great find for DD during the 2015 season but was dropped last year after failing one too many times opening the innings. Dravid & co. have a tough decision to make with regards to his future but all I can say is watching his 2015 season, it seemed somewhat flukey and he really shouldn’t have come off so frequently.
The Daredevils won’t want to rush 19-year-old Indian superstar Rishabh Pant but with scores of 69(40) and 32(26) opening the innings last year that could be his landing spot, although his flexibility and ability allows him to bat anywhere in the top 5 should Billings or Iyer open the innings.
Karun Nair is 25-years-old now and has been showing promise for a while, but this could be his breakout year. Batting at #4 last season, Nair put up knocks of 83*(59), 68(50) & 54(42). His ability in the top order should give him at gig at #3/#4 depending on selections elsewhere, preferably from a fantasy standpoint he should be batting at #3 and facing as many balls as possible looking at his knocks last year.
What have we learnt?
Well, apart from Quinton de Kock, going for any batsman from the off is a risky move given the Delhi regime, waiting for any sufficient news to surface would be advisable. Amit Mishra and Kagiso Rabada will be prime options if they assume expected roles but plumping for anyone else in that bowling line-up would be a risky move given the options waiting in the wings and varying conditions that the line-up will be based upon. Delhi are the hardest team to ‘pick’ in this competition.