Delhi Daredevils pitchforked a bunch of young Indian batsmen to face one of the most experienced bowling attacks in the IPL, which could be the effect of having Rahul Dravid as mentor. Delhi’s policy shift was evident in the auctions this year as they heavily invested in Indian. On Sunday, in the opening game against Kolkata Knight Riders , that plan didn’t work after five Indian batsmen produced only 38 runs as Daredevils failed to cross 100 for the seventh time in IPL.
Relying on Indian batsmen in the absence of South African all-rounder JP Duminy, the skipper last year, was a risk. The picture could still have been different had Quinton de Kock given Delhi a good start. He started well before pulling a short delivery from Andre Russell that was held by Yusuf Pathan at mid-off.
The game was set for the Indians to take over but Shreyas Iyer was trapped leg-before by Russell. Karun Nair lasted only three balls after de Kock was out. As opener and a senior, Mayank Agarwal should have calmed the nerves but in trying to be too attacking, played a rank poor shot against a bowler who was in wicket-taking rhythm. He ended up slicing Russell to deep third-man.
The World Twenty20 provided a lesson on how to shift gears and how to play the ball into the gaps and take singles to ride out the tough times. At 31/3, it was a tough introduction to IPL for the young Delhi Daredevils players. For balance, Daredevils even got Karun Nair, one of the top batsmen in Ranji Trophy, but it didn’t help.
Karun showed a glimpse of his class when he caressed the first ball he faced off John Hastings through cover, without any returns. The very next delivery he fished outside off-stump. Karun finally holed out Manish Pandey to backward point, chasing another delivery, which was wide and full.
Bought for R8.5 crore, young all-rounder Pawan Negi had much to prove after not getting a game in the WT20. But he struggled against pace, edging Umesh Yadav just short of slip. Negi danced down the track and lifted pacer Colin Munro over midwicket for six but was deceived in the air by veteran left-arm spinner Brad Hogg. Sanju Samson, who played for Rajasthan Royals under Dravid’s supervision, too fell to Hogg. The performance suggested that Delhi’s line-up of domestic batsmen is a work in progress. Whether Daredevils, after struggling last season, can wait for them to click has to be seen.