If there is one team that deserves the ‘most improved’ tag over the past two seasons of the Indian Premier League, it is Delhi Capitals. They made Shreyas Iyer the captain and reached the playoffs in 2019, before going a step further and making it to the final for the first time last year.
In his speech to the squad, head coach Ricky Ponting made it clear none of that mattered, though. A first-ever runner-up finish is a thing of the past. It was a good season, but not a great one. His message was clear: what matters now is 2021, and he wants to win the title.
As they resume their quest for their first IPL trophy, the Capitals will be without the services of their regular skipper. While Iyer’s absence as a batsman is a setback, there’s a lot to look forward to for DC with their new captain Rishabh Pant.
With a shrewd and experienced mentor in Ponting, Delhi will be hoping Pant can carry on his fine form with the bat and rub his success off on the franchise. The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a phenomenal 2021 so far and his aggressive, confident approach could work wonders for his team.
DC squad for IPL 2021
|Steve Smith||Amit Mishra||Rishabh Pant||Axar Patel|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Avesh Khan||Sam Billings||R Ashwin|
|Prithvi Shaw||Ishant Sharma||Vishnu Vinod||Marcus Stoinis|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Kagiso Rabada||Lalit Yadav|
|Shimron Hetmyer||Pravin Dubey||Chris Woakes|
|Anrich Nortje||Tom Curran|
|Umesh Yadav||Ripal Patel|
Players bought by DC at auction
|Tom Curran||All-Rounder||Rs 52500000|
|Steven Smith||Batsman||Rs 22000000|
|Sam Billings||Wicket Keeper||Rs 20000000|
|Umesh Yadav||Bowler||Rs 10000000|
|Ripal Patel||All-Rounder||Rs 2000000|
|Vishnu Vinod||Wicket Keeper||Rs 2000000|
|Lukman Hussain Meriwala||Bowler||Rs 2000000|
|M Siddharth||Bowler||Rs 2000000|
In the auction for IPL 2021, Delhi Capitals made two key signings in terms of batting even if it felt odd at that time. As a replacement for Iyer, they now have the options of Steve Smith and Sam Billings. And while the English right-hander does have potential, DC will be more likely to turn to Smith early on in the tournament.
But, once their full overseas contingent is available for selection, including the Australian in the XI will mean they’ll have to drop Shimron Hetmyer. The West Indies left-hander provides a X-Factor in the shortest format and shuttling him in and out of the XI was one of the mistakes they did last season. That means Ajinkya Rahane could be slotted in the middle order and DC will hope the experienced right-hander bats with freedom. There are definite balance issues to address for the think-tank.
Shikhar Dhawan will once again be important at the top of the order and all eyes will also be on Prithvi Shaw, who will start the season full of confidence after his exploits in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Ponting’s comments about Shaw’s training methods in 2020 should be an added incentive for the Indian to show he has turned a corner. Marcus Stoinis was the best all-rounder of IPL 2020 and his form with the bat will be crucial in the death overs (if he is not used as an opener again).
In the bowling department, DC have added Tom Curran and Umesh Yadav in the squad. South African right-arm pacers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were brilliant in IPL 2020 but tailed off at the back-end. They will once again lead the attack for the Capitals, once they are integrated into the side.
In Ashwin Ravichandran and Axar Patel, Delhi have two of the best Indians spinners in their ranks, with the experience of Amit Mishra also being a valuable option.
Delhi Capitals have great quality in their backroom staff with a healthy mix of Indian and foreign coaches. Amre’s return to the management is good news for Shaw as well as other Indian batsmen, given his reputation in Indian cricket circles.
- Ricky Ponting: Head coach
- Mohammad Kaif: Assistant coach
- Pravin Amre: Assistant coach
- Ajay Ratra: Assistant coach
- James Hopes: Fast bowling coach
- Patrick Farhart: Team physio
India’s T20 World Cup plans
A sidetrack during IPL 2021 is going to be seeing how India’s T20 World Cup squad probables / hopefuls / outsiders perform.
- In terms of batting, apart from Rishabh Pant, Delhi’s Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw are in the running for a T20 World Cup berth. While Dhawan is in the incumbent (even as the back-up opener), Shaw has an outside chance. Dhawan has stiff competition in the Indian team due to the emergence of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan and the senior left-hander will be hoping to prove his mettle with another strong IPL season. Shaw, on the other hand, is yet to play a T20I but can make a case for himself if he matches the standard he set in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
- Axar Patel and R Ashwin are the other two DC cricketers who will be hoping to seal a T20 World Cup spot. Axar is very much in the scheme of things and even played against England recently, but he’ll need to remain consistent with Ravindra Jadeja around. Ashwin, meanwhile, could be the wicket-taking spinner India need and he has been bullish about his chances of making a comeback to white-ball international cricket. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav haven’t done enough of late and Ashwin will be keen to out-perform them in this IPL season.
The Big Question
- There are two key questions facing Delhi at the start of IPL 2021. Firstly, despite all the buzz around Pant being declared the captain, there’s no doubt it will be a real test for the 23-year-old to lead the franchise. He has led Delhi before in domestic cricket and has some experience in this regard but nevertheless, his captaincy acumen at the top level will surely be tested.
- Secondly, the Capitals will be searching for the right replacement for Iyer. They have two quality opening batsmen, firepower with the bat for the death overs, and quality bowlers at their disposal. The one area they could be exploited is in the middle order. Whether it is Rahane or Smith who fills the gap, they will have an important job on their hands. Keep an eye out on the strike rate column.
Most Valuable Player
- Delhi have a number of star players in their ranks but the focus will definitely be on captain Pant. If he sustains the form he has had in recent times, his team will be in a strong position to reach the playoffs for a third straight year. His explosive batting along with his position as leader make Pant the standout player for DC this season. He has it all going for him, but can he continue to thrive under the spotlight?
Uncapped player to look out for
- Avesh Khan, Pravin Dubey, Lukman Meriwala, M Siddharth, Vishnu Vinod, Lalit Yadav and Ripal Patel are the uncapped players in Delhi Capitals’ squad for IPL 2021. They’re all talented players but with DC having experienced options in all departments, it seems unlikely any of them will get consistent game time to make a real impact. Having said that, Meriwala could be one to look out for if Ishant and Umesh do not click in the Indian pacer role. The 29-year-old left-arm pacer played a key role in Baroda finishing runners-up in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy earlier this year and finished as the second-highest wicket-taker (15 in eight innings) in the T20 tournament.
IPL 2021 DC Schedule
Ideal playing XI
Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma.
Delhi in IPL over the years
|Season||League stage finish||Playoff result|
|IPL 2008||4th||Lost in the semi-final|
|IPL 2009||1st||Lost in the semi-final|
|IPL 2011||10th out of 10|
|IPL 2012||1st out of 9||Lost in Qualifier 1, lost in Qualifier 2|
|IPL 2013||9th out of 9|
|IPL 2019||3rd||Won in Eliminator, lost in Qualifier 2|
|IPL 2020||2nd||Lost in the final|
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