After more than a decade of sheer disappointment, the think tank of the Delhi Capitals has made quite a few changes. Sourav Ganguly has  been roped in as the adviser to infuse a sense of optimism and purpose into the team. The veteran would be joining forces with the Australian great Ricky Ponting. Ironically, it is a scenario wherein a childhood hero has teamed up with a childhood villain.

For an ardent Delhi fan such as myself, it is quite disheartening to note that Delhi is the only team in the history of the IPL to have never played a final. Over the years, the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, AB De Villiers, Kevin Pietersen and Tilakratne Dilshan have represented the franchise .  Last year, Gautam Gambhir joined the franchise after spending nearly seven seasons with the Kolkata Knight Riders. The southpaw had tasted a lot of success during his stint with KKR. He had all the experience under his belt, but quite sadly, his arrival could not turn the team’s fortunes around. After a string of losses, the veteran decided to give up on the captaincy. The baton was then passed on to Shreyas Iyer.

Every year, the team ropes in some top overseas players. Several youngsters are inducted into the side as well. There’s anticipation, there’s hope, and there’s optimism,  but all of that fades away once the team begins losing matches.

It has to be said that the team begins its campaign on a largely positive note, only to squander the advantage during the backend of the tournament. Last year, they finished 8th with just five wins in as many as 14 games. Despite having a relatively poor track record, the Delhi franchise is believed to possess the necessary firepower to make it big this time around.

The Ponting-Ganguly factor

The inclusion of Sourav Ganguly into the team’s management has grabbed quite a few eyeballs. He’d join Ricky Ponting at the Feroz Shah Kotla.  With two the best captains forming the core of the team’s senior management, the team is expected to do well. There would certainly be no dearth of motivation this time around.  Both Ponting as well as Ganguly bring in a wealth of experience into the side. It would also be interesting to see Ganguly’s tactics. The youngsters in their ranks can learn a lot about match awareness and pressure handling from Sourav Ganguly.

The youngsters in their ranks

Despite having a bittersweet record, the Delhi franchise has been renowned to nurture youngsters. Shikhar Dhawan began his IPL journey way back in 2008 with the Delhi franchise. Back then, he was just 22. Sanju Samson also played for the Delhi franchise back in 2016-17.

The likes of Rishabh Pant, Avesh Khan, Prithvi Shaw, and Shreyas Iyer have the skills to make it big at the international level. Unlike other franchises, Delhi’s strategy has always revolved around youngsters. Young blood forms the heart of Delhi Capitals. It has been the team’s essence ever since the beginning.The exuberance of youth, however, needs adequate backing from the senior pros.

The good

Shikhar Dhawan’s arrival comes as a blessing. The 33-year-old would share the opening duties with Prithvi Shaw. He’d have to play the senior pro’ role. Also, the list of the team’s overseas recruits sounds impressive. Both Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada can dismantle the opposition’s batting order almost single-handedly.  Colin Munro, the flashy opener from New Zealand is undoubtedly a reckoning force in the shortest format of the game.

The spin department looks pretty much settled as well. The trio of Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichanne and Axar Patel has a point to prove this time around. Axar Patel did not get much game time in 2018 with the Kings XI after the arrival of Mujeeb. The arrival of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal has also gone against the 24-year-old.

The middle order looks pretty much settled. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant have shown glimpses of their ability with the bat. Both these youngsters are capable of pulling-off the big hits if need be. Pant’s wicket-keeping abilities  have been under scrutiny, but his ability to win games with the willow in hand has never been in question.

The bad

The team’s pace bowling stocks look thin. Ishant Sharma was bought during the auction to strengthen the bowling reserves. Of late, Ishant Sharma’s white-ball form has been questionable as well. Trent Boult, Chris Morris and Kagiso Rabada possess all the tricks to torment the batsmen, but lack of a senior Indian seamer might hamper their chances of progressing into the knockouts.

Also, the franchise lacks a genuine Indian all-rounder. Hanuma Vihari is undoubtedly a sound batsman in the longest format of the game, but his white-ball credentials aren’t all that impressive.

The Capitals begin their journey against the Mumbai Indians on March 24. It would be interesting to see how things go for them this year.

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