IPL Auction: Delhi Capitals look most dynamic after careful buys
The top-four finishers of the 2019 Indian Premier League—Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals had their combinations set even before Thursday’s auction, and they are only looking stronger after the new buys. In terms of overall quality Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings still top the list with very strong cores. Sunrisers have enough match-winners in their ranks to challenge Mumbai and Chennai consistently. However, the franchise which has emerged equally strong after trading and auction is Delhi Capitals, who have been working on rebuilding their outfit after the disaster of 2018 IPL when they finished at the bottom.
Capitals lacked a bit of experience last season which they have made up with the addition of Rahane and R Ashwin in the trading window. After bagging Chris Woakes, Jason Roy, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey and Shimron Hetmyer at the auction, they have now covered most bases. T20 cricket is about having a batting line-up which can hit the top gear straightaway. With Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer and Jason Roy in their squad, Delhi have a potent line-up.
The IPL is still some time away but at this moment Capital’s main players are all firing on all cylinders—Shaw has made a strong domestic comeback, Pant’s confidence is getting better with each game and Iyer is on a high after his success at No 4 in the ongoing series against West Indies. Rahane’s recent Test form has been exemplary, Hetmyer has fired an early warning with a century in the first ODI, Alex Carey was impressive at the World Cup and R Ashwin is also bowling at his best. If Shikhar Dhawan reinvents his last season’s form, Delhi Capitals could be difficult to beat.
Picking the first XI will be a challenge for Capitals. But with so little to separate between the eight teams, the decisive factor ultimately is going to be the backup options if you factor in replacements for injuries or players being called back for national duty. That’s where Delhi Capitals have been very solid. Not only are they sorted in each batting position, their spin department offers variety as well, with off-spinner Ashwin, leg-spinners Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichhane and left-arm spinner Axar Patel on the roster.
The pace department looks a bit weak with Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Chris Woakes, Marcus Stoinis and Mohit Sharma, but since the Ferozeshah Kotla track is dry during the end of the season, spinners may have to do the legwork. Spoilt with options, the Capitals management’s challenge will be to identifying their best XI.
Kolkata Knight Riders made the biggest move in the auction by bidding ~15.5 crore for Pat Cummins but the lack of depth in their squad had former captain Gautam Gambhir worried. While analysing the auction on Star Sports, Gambhir said the management could have gone for all-rounders. “If you look at the squad as a whole, there is no backup for Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine who is a one-of-a-kind bowler. If Morgan suffers an injury, the team has no middle-order overseas batsman,” said Gambhir. “The management could have gone for a Mitchell Marsh or Marcus Stoinis who would have given more depth to the squad; so you have to hope all these players are there for the entire series.”
Former Delhi Daredevils assistant coach Pravin Amre, however, is not surprised by KKR’s bid for Cummins. “It was expected. Everyone was looking for fast bowling all-rounders. I have worked with him at Delhi and off the field also he is a great person, he is a fine team man.” Overall, Amre said 90% teams will be happy with the auction. “Most teams have got what they wanted. They already had the core of 15 to 16 players, they wanted some add-ons. Only teams with money like KKR and Kings XI Punjab wanted players who they can put straightaway in the playing XI.”
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s target at the auctions was to bolster their bowling. Already strong in the spin department, Kane Richardson and Chris Morris will be good backups for Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini. Dale Steyn is a risk given his recent breakdowns but if he stays fit, the South Africa pacer will be a handful like he showed in the two games he had played for RCB last season.
Chennai Super Kings will also have an even more incisive pace attack after picking Josh Hazlewood and Sam Curran in the auction. CSK’s template for fast bowlers is clear: they want bowlers who can swing the ball like Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur. Hazlewood ticks that box while Curran provides variety with left-arm pace and lower-order batting ability. Mumbai Indians had just one worry—getting a backup for veteran pacer Lasith Malinga. They had already achieved that in the trading window by getting the wily Trent Boult.