“And silence envelops Kotla yet again”. Who knew Harsha Bhogle’s comment in Indian Premier League 2014 on the fall of a Delhi Daredevils wicket will still hold relevance to the Delhi franchise.
Delhi Daredevils is one of the three original teams that are yet to win the IPL title, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab being the other two. Over the past nine editions, DD has lost the most number of games in the cash rich league (74).
The fifth most expensive franchise in the 2008 auction ($84 million by GMR Group) made it to the semifinals in the first two editions, and topped the league table in 2012. Since then, it has been downhill, finishing last (2013/2014), seventh (2015) and sixth (2016) respectively.
Before the current IPL, Hindustan Times went around Delhi to find out what people thought about their home club. One common factor mentioned was the inabilty to hold on to a leader. “There has been Gautam Gambhir for KKR and MS Dhoni for CSK, but DD hasn’t been able to produce a leader of such quality,” said Jaideep Singh, a chartered accountant.
In a span of nine years, DD has had 10 captains, from James Hopes to Kevin Pietersen. Virender Sehwag was the icon player of DD and his depature left a void in connecting with the Delhi fans as well. “There is no Sehwag anymore in the squad. He used to have a positive influence on the game every time he played for DD”, said, Subhash, a college student.
After letting go of three senior Delhi players Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag as well as AB de Villiers, Daredevils has struggled to score big in IPL.
“Their batting is a weak link. They should try to incorporate experienced batsmen rather than depend entirely on youngsters,” said Mukesh, another college student.
Fans though are hopeful of a better show in IPL 2017.
“Cricket is a game of uncertainities. No one can predict what is going to happen,” Mohammad Sadam, a vendor, said. “Regardless of how they’ve performed in the past, this year they will provide a better performance,” book seller, MD Buddhan, said.
With no JP Duminy or Quinton de Kock, Delhi’s batting indeed looks shaky. Skipper Zaheer Khan, along with mentor Rahul Dravid, will have to infuse some magic in this edition of the IPL.