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The Capitals’ key men

Patriot takes a look at the key players who can make a difference for the Delhi Capitals in this IPL, and perhaps bring about a change in fortune for the franchise

The Delhi Capitals now stand third in the table of the IPL after the first two matches. In the first match, they somewhat decimated three-time champions Mumbai Indians and just fell short against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their second match.

Their position in the top three of the table is a very new thing for the franchise, as the team, previously known as the Delhi Daredevils are historically the worst performing team in IPL history. While all other teams have reached the final at least once, the Delhi team have never done so. In fact, in the previous 11 IPLs, they have only managed to reached the semifinals/playoffs just thrice. No team has finished last in the table more than the team from Delhi.

But this time with a change in name, the Delhi Capitals are looking for a change in fortune, and going by their performance in the first two matches, their fortunes seem to be different, even though it is still quite early. But to make this season something to remember, the Capitals’ players have to step up and make it count. Here are some of the players who can serve as key to the Delhi Capitals’ campaign this year.

Rishabh Pant

When you think of Delhi Capitals, the first player that comes to your mind is 23-year-old Rishabh Pant. The swashbuckling left-handed keeper-batsman is perhaps the Capitals’ biggest asset. Last season, Pant was the top scorer for the then Daredevils — when he scored 684 runs, with a top score of 128. He got this season off to a flyer for Capitals when he scored 78 off 27 balls.

Pant’s biggest strength is his able to hit big shots at will. Despite his rather short frame, Pant can ably tonk the ball, and hit sixes at quite long distances. Another thing is that Pant never loses momentum throughout his innings. He maintains his rhythm and scores at a brisk pace, and seldom falters to keep the score ticking. At No. 4, he is the perfect middle order batsman to play for the latter half of the innings, when the team needs to score in an aggressive manner. The chink in Pant’s armour however is his average wicket-keeping abilities. He is nowhere close to the technical genius of Dhoni, Saha or Karthik. So, his keeping skills need to brush up, and what better stage to showcase this than the IPL.

Also, the number four spot in the Indian batting line up seems to be vacant, and Pant is one of the top contenders to clinch that place. If he can manage to score big with the bat, and continue the form he showed in the first match, he could well earn himself a ticket to the World Cup in England.

Expect the Delhi Capitals batting unit to revolve around Pant and if the Capitals somehow manage to do well this season, the southpaw will surely have an important hand to play.

Shikhar Dhawan

Shikhar Dhawan was part of the Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural edition of the IPL and then shifted base to the Mumbai Indians and later the Sunrisers Hyderabad, where he spent a productive five years including the year when he won the title. Now, 11 years after his initial stint, Dhawan is back to the Delhi franchise.

Dhawan is one of the mainstays of the Indian limited overs batting line up, and currently forms one half of one of the most destructive opening pairs of world cricket with Rohit Sharma. Shikhar is definitely the most experienced name in the Delhi batting unit and will play a key role in their season. Dhawan already scored a 50 in the last match against CSK. However, to suit Delhi’s needs he needs to play the role of the sheet anchor, and survive for the most part of the 20 overs.

Dhawan has been in sensational form as of late, picking up the Man of the Series Award in the India- Australia T20 series down under, and also finished 2018 as the top scorer in the world in the T20 format with 689 runs. So, if he brings this form to the Capitals camp this year, the side from Delhi is all set to achieve greatness.

Kagiso Rabada

The biggest bowler in the Delhi lineup, and perhaps one of the biggest bowlers in the entire tournament, South African Kagiso Rabada is a force to be reckoned with. The current number 3 Test bowler and number 5 ODI bowler, Rabada has a knack of taking crucial wickets at important junctures of the match.

Delhi Capitals bowler Kagiso Rabada bowls during the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi, on March 26, 2019. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) / —-IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE—– / GETTYOUT

In the first match against MI, Rabada was the pick of the bowlers giving away just 23 runs in four overs and picking up two crucial wickets including in-form Yuvraj Singh. Against CSK also, he bowled quite well, even though it was for a losing cause.

Rabada is known all over the world for his raw pace, and his ability to consistently hit the deck hard. He clocks more than an average of 145 Km per hour and has a lethal Yorker and bouncer up his arsenal. He also has the ability to check the runs at the death overs.

Though a mainstay at the Test level, he is not that much reputed for his limited overs skills, and with an impressive showing in this IPL, he can somehow cement his place in this year’s World Cup. If Delhi Capitals advance through to the finals, Rabada will have to lead the bowling line up.

Ishant Sharma

Once dubbed a failure, Ishant Sharma is now one of the most reliable Indian pace bowlers around, with him performing consistently for the Indian Test squad. Apart from Shami, Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, he is the leading candidate to get a place in the World Cup squad this year.

With Rabada leading the bowling line up, Sharma’s role in the team is to play the second fiddle, and trouble the batsman enough so that he can chip in with a few wickets here and there. In the two matches played so far, he has picked up three wickets. He was particularly impressive in the match vs MI where he picked up the important wickets of Rohit Sharma and Quinton De Cock.

Sharma uses his height to his advantage when he bowls those deadly bouncers. He also has quite an effective slower ball that can bamboozle the batsmen. The gentle giant, as his teammates refer to him, can be a huge asset for Delhi’s fortunes, if he plays to his full potential.

Sandeep Lamichhane

Now this is a player that is not much talked about, but can be one of the most crucial elements in the team. Lamicchane, who hails from Nepal, is a wily leg spinner who has a lot of variations and can weave a web for the batsmen with his googlies and wrong ones.

But it is literally a surprise as to why the Capitals have not picked him for the starting XI. With no reputable spinner among their ranks, Lamicchane has the ability to lead the attack. In the last match against CSK, in a sluggish Feroz Shah Kotla wicket, he would have been a revelation. Instead they went for Amit Mishra, who has clearly lost his touch, and Rahul Tewatia, who perhaps was picked only for his batting abilities, to lead the spin attack. They didn’t even field four foreign players in that match. Lamichhane would have not only been a perfect fit for the fourth slot, but also could have provided the edge to win that match.

Last IPL, the Nepalese leg spinner played three matches, and went under seven runs an over, which is quite a good economy rating. Since then he has played in leagues all over the world and shone for whichever team he plays for. While Delhi’s pace battery looks formidable, Lamicchane could add that zing that is currently missing in the Capitals’ spin department.

If all these players along with all the other squad members fire all cylinders, the Delhi Capitals genuinely have the ability to go all the way and perhaps earn their first IPL title.