Saturday 6 March 2010 

IPL 2010 Preview - Delhi Daredevils

Team Owner: GMR Group

GMR Group is a global infrastructure major with interests in airports, energy, highways, urban infrastructure, manufacturing sector and agri-business including sugar and ferro-alloys. They are led by G.M.Rao, a mechanical engineer by profession and their founder. He established his business empire in 1978 and he recognized the huge business potential in the infrastructure space, especially with the opening up of the power sector in the 90s in India. Under his guidance and vision, the company is also modernizing the Delhi International Airport and also developing the new Greenfield International Airport at Hyderabad.

The GMR group won the franchise rights for Delhi in the 2007 auction for a bid of 84 million USD.

Squad: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Rajat Bhatia, Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Moises Henriques, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Sarabjeet Ladda, Farveez Maharoof, Mithun Manhas, Amit Mishra, Andrew McDonald, Dirk Nannes, Ashish Nehra, Wayne Parnell, Shashi Ranjan, Aavishkar Salvi, Virender Sehwag, Pradeep Sangwan, Sarandeep Singh, Joginder Singh, David Warner, Umesh Yadav.

Coach: Greg Shipperd

Gregory Shipperd is a former Australian first-class cricketer and coach, and he has now been in charge of the Delhi Dare Devils since their birth in 2007. As a player, he represented Western Australia from 1977 to 1984 and finished his career with the Tasmanian Tigers in 1990-91. He then went on to coach Tasmania and is also the current coach of Victorian Bush Rangers.

A right-handed top order batsman, Shipperd never played a Test or ODI for Australia but has coached Tasmania for eleven seasons and guided them to their maiden Sheffield Shield final in 1993-94.  He also has to his credit the slowest First-Class century ever scored by an Australian taking 481 minutes to score his hundred runs.

2009 Record: Semi-Finalist
2008 Record: Semi-Finalist

The Delhi Dare Devils have always had a decently strong squad and since the beginning there never really was any doubt that they would be challenging for the prize. And they did just that in the first two seasons. However their cupboard is still shorn of silverware and that is amazing to say the least. In 2008, they were placed fourth in the league and then ran into eventual champions Rajasthan Royals in the semis. It was their deficiency in the middle order that people blamed for their exit.

In simple terms, the 2009 IPL season was a step-up for this team. They finished top of the league and were considered prime contenders in South Africa as well, but yet again were halted in the semis by eventual champions Deccan Chargers. Just like the season before, their free-flowing batting became stuck when it mattered the most.

Strengths & Weaknesses:

Over the last couple of years, just one look at their squad was sufficient to know that they didn’t really have a well balanced side. In the first year they had some really good players who are well known exponents in their respective arts. It was forgivable for the competition was only in the first year and several lessons would be learnt. But Delhi did not learn theirs. In 2009, they again went out to play with a side that was top heavy and very weak in the middle order. That proved to be their undoing last year just as it was in 2008.

In Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, they boast of two very fine batsmen at the top of the order and some equally gifted ones in Tilakratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers. While these four will fire on most occasions and sometimes Dinesh Karthik will chip in as well, on the rare occasion they do fail, Delhi collapse. And in the last two seasons that has happened in the semi-finals without fail, otherwise they would have been champions. This is their weakness and one which was thought to have been addressed when they bought both Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah. But the two didn’t get to play much and we know what happened.

They have offloaded Shah and brought in Moises Henriques into the side but along with David Warner and Dirk Nannes, there will be plenty of foreign names to choose from and it will be a selection headache for new captain Gambhir. One solution could be to allow Warner and Sehwag to open and the skipper himself coming in at number three, allowing the batting to run deep. But that will again be dependent on which four foreign players they choose to play in their eleven.

This is a puzzle for they have two bowlers Dirk Nannes and Wayne Parnell who would be contesting for a spot alongwith Ashish Nehra. Henriques and Ferveez Maharoof are also in the fray and it is good to have so many options with the ball in what will be a keen challenge for the bowlers given that the Indian pitches won’t really support them. One advantage though could be playing at home, in Delhi, where the pitch will be under scrutiny once again and lack of bounce is to be expected since it is under continuous work.

Player to watch out for: Virender Sehwag

He is potentially the world’s most destructive batsman. And he is in terrific form. Plus he has given up the rigors of captaincy which means he doesn’t have too many things on his mind, if he ever did have any. And all this means only one thing: that it will be no holds barred whenever he comes out to bat in the third season of the IPL.

This is not to say that he wasn’t a good enough captain for the last two seasons. But one got the feeling that his aggressive intent was one of the reasons that the team wasn’t able to find the balance needed to go all the way. That pressure is off the team as well and together they can write a different script for the Delhi Dare Devils this season.

Chetan Narula