The first team to be eliminated from race for the Playoffs in IPL 2023, Delhi Capitals may have to take some hard decisions ahead of the 2024 season.
Ahead of their home match against Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals had hope – not merely to stay alive in the Playoffs hunt but also – with a reasonably big victory margin – the sixth place on the points table.
Delhi were in it after restricting Punjab to 167-7 and racing to 65-0 in the powerplay overs. Then Harpreet Brar took the wind out of their sails. They finished on 136-8, and that was that.
Unless Sunrisers Hyderabad plays unusually poorly – they have the same points as Delhi but with a match in hand and a superior net run rate – Delhi are almost certain to finish last. What do they do ahead of the next season?
Axar Patel would have been Delhi’s Player of the Tournament had there been an award for every team. If anything, he can do with a promotion up the order.
Kuldeep Yadav has matched Axar with the ball. While bowling in tandem, they can be a devastating pair, more than the sum of its parts. He has also got out only once in nine innings, which must count for something.
Phil Salt was picked late, partly because of Delhi’s team combination. When he was picked, he struck at 167 when no one else made 140. The wicketkeeper’s role addresses the balance.
Mitchell Marsh came into the tournament as an in-form bat, but his bowling was a surprise element of IPL 2023. Despite missing three matches, he has emerged as Delhi’s leading wicket-taker.
Anrich Nortje bowled well in bursts, and did an acceptable, if not reasonable, job for a bottom-placed side.
Prithvi Shaw had a terrible run and was dropped halfway through the season. However, given his performance until 2022, he deserves another chance – unless, of course, the mounting disciplinary charges push the owners to a point of no return.
Ishant Sharma demonstrated the right length to bowl at on a ground he knows better than any of his teammates. He found bounce, struck often in the powerplay, and looks as good in the format as he ever had. Age? He is only 34.
Abishek Porel played a couple of impressive shots and kept wicket brilliantly, and should be an excellent fit for the Indian wicketkeeper every side wants as backup.
Praveen Dubey can be the third spinner who can fill in if one of Axar or Kuldeep misses out, or even support them on a slow, low pitch.
Mukesh Kumar has impressed, and has been doing a stellar job in domestic cricket for some time. He needs a full season.
Rishabh Pant’s shadow loomed large over the Delhi camp and steadily emptying stands that watched one meek collapse follow another. Delhi have missed their talisman this season.
David Warner spent the season trying to outlast the collapses at the other end. Perhaps he deserves another go, this time with a batting line-up that does not wilt. That call can be delayed.
Yash Dhull is a gifted batter, and had led India to Under-19 World Cup title last year. There is, however, no scarcity of young batters. Dhull will need to impress in the upcoming domestic season, for the competition is fierce.
Aman Khan withstood the storm to top-score the night Delhi pulled off their David-slays-Goliath feat against Gujarat, but that remains the sole highlight of his entire Twenty20 career. Will Delhi back a 26-year-old bat who bats outside the top six and seldom bowls?
Ripal Patel has played five times, but only because Delhi have been losing consistently. He can hit the ball, but unless Delhi figures out a role (he bats low down the order and does not bowl a lot), he is probably not a great fit.
Chetan Sakariya was underwhelming in his only appearance, but for another outfit, he would have got more matches. With Marsh getting wickets, he was not needed, but he will be, at some point… if not by Delhi, then by another team.
Vicky Ostwal is a fine spinner, though his batting has not come off as much as was expected. However, age is still on his side.
Rilee Rossouw had an ordinary season, and continues to remain one of those baffling T20I stars who have not clicked at the IPL.
Mustafizur Rahman is probably a fast bowler too many in a side that backs overseas batters, and already has Sakariya, an Indian, in the reserves.
Lungi Ngidi see Mustafizur above.
Manish Pandey brings experience to the middle order, but that parameter probably does not make up for his batting. It is not a one-off either: since 2016, he has never struck at 131 in a single IPL season.
Sarfaraz Khan’s first-class numbers are mind-boggling, but they have never really been converted into anything substantial in this format.
Rovman Powell is too expensive for the second reserve batter in a squad, after Rossouw.
Priyam Garg (batter) replaced the injured Kamlesh Nagarkoti (bowling all-rounder) halfway through the season, and still played (and failed) twice. With a balanced side, he will not be required.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti, while gifted, is too injury-prone.
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