The Delhi Capitals have finished second in the league table and look set to book a place in the finals. Patriot analyses what they have done right this year
The Delhi Capitals have had a fantastic run this IPL season. They registered eight wins and with 16 points finished second in the league stage thus giving them a one match advantage in the qualifiers. Even though they had a minor slump in the final leg of the IPL, it has been an exceptional season for a team that has been perennial losers of the IPL.
Here we try to find the reasons behind the turnaround for the Capitals in 2020.
The Capitals have a solid core of two all rounders in the starting 11. Marcus Stoinisd has been a revelation this tournament with his all round skills. He has come in the lower order when Delhi have been in a spot of bother and smacked a few out of the park on many occasions. Scoring 229 runs at a strike rate of over 170 and taking 8 wickets in 14 matches till now, is nothing short of a team winning achievement.
Similarly, Akshar Patel, coming in at the fag end of the innings, has struck a few lusty blows to propel the score. He ensures that the batting line up of the capitals extends a long way. Patel has been particularly impressive with the ball picking up 8 wickets at an economy of just 6.27.
A rejuvenated Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin has seen a sort of a rebirth in the T20 format with his highly impressive IPL performances this year after a dismal 3 year spell with the Kings XI Punjab.He has led the spin bowling department from the front, with a good economy rate of 7.5. He has taken 10 wickets in 12 matches and in spite of suffering an injury in the first match has returned and rattled batsmen with his wily off spin. He has been ably supported by Axar Patel, and together they have been one of the most economical and effective spin bowling pairs in this edition of the IPL.
Shikhar Dhawan had a slow start in this IPL and had a chance to fade away but in the latter half he just shocked the opposition bowlers with a bang.
He now stands second in the orange cap count down with a mammoth 525 runs, at an average of 48. The most staggering record that he has created this year is that he became the first batsman in T20 history to hit two back-to-back centuries.
While his unbeaten 101 against Super Kings came in just 59 balls — guiding his team to a five-wicket win — it took Dhawan 61 deliveries to play an unbeaten knock of 106 against Kings XI. However, his team lost the game.
And not just the tree-figure knocks, he also slammed a couple of half-centuries, making it a season to remember for him so far. So what has been the secret of his success?
Dhawan, who enjoys playing his shots, admits that a change in mindset has actually helped him stay positive and focus on the job. After early struggles in the tournament — where he failed to convert the starts — things changed soon after his unbeaten 69 against Mumbai Indians on October 11. That, Dhawan indicates, boosted his confidence.
At a time when opening has been an area of concern for Delhi, Dhawan has succeeded in taking the pressure off the middle-order by ensuring that he contributed significantly with the bat. “I play with courage. I am not afraid to get out…” he says, making it obvious that he is enjoying every moment.
The lethal pace battery
One of the main reasons that the Capitals have performed so well in the tournament is the fact that they have had a quite lethal pace attack, perhaps the best in the tournament.
Kagiso Rabada, the number one bowler in the world, has been quite good for them in the IPL. He has taken 25 wickets in 14 matches and leads the purple cap charts. Rabada has the unique record of taking a wicket in every match for the Delhi Capitals he has played this year.
Supporting Rabada has been another South African quickman in Anrich Nortje who, surprisingly was unpicked in the 2020 auctions. He only came into the Delhi side as a replacement for English quick bowler Chrish Woakes, and has been a solid addition to the team. He has taken a total of 19 wickets in his 14 matches while consistently clocking speeds of 150 kmph plus. He has even recorded the fastest ball this IPL at 155.21 kmph. In fact five of the six fastest deliveries this IPL have been bowled by Nortje.
The lethal pace combination has bamboozled batsmen left right and centre and is one of the main reasons behind the Capitals progressing to the qualifiers.
Leading from the front
When Shreyas Iyer was made the captain of the Capitals (then the Daredevils), three years ago, there was uncertainty in whether a young player with minimal international experience can pull it off, but Iyer has answered his critics in the past two seasons.
This year too he has been exceptional in his captaincy, marshalling his troops well. With senior pros like Dhawan, Ashwin and Rahane in the side, he has managed to hold his own, and has been spot on in his bowling changes, fielding positions and pepping up the team.
With the bat too, he has led from the front, scoring 421 runs this season, and is now the second highest run getter for the Capitals.
Great team management led by World Cup winning captain Ricky Ponting has also done the trick for Iyer who has also improved his captaincy skills by a mile and who knows, we may be looking at the future skipper of the Indian team.
(Cover image: The Delhi Capitals have amassed 16 points and are going into the qualifiers on 2nd position in the league PHOTO: Facebook)