Delhi Capitals, earlier Daredevils, is one of the three teams which have never won an IPL title, getting close a few times but choking at the most important moments, letting go of vital opportunities. But the franchise saw a major change last season, when they reached the playoffs after seven long years, and impressed everyone with their performance.
In the 2008 edition of the tournament, the Daredevils won their first two matches against the Rajasthan Royals and the erstwhile Deccan Chargers. After a few ups and downs throughout the group stage, they finished in the final four, eventually losing to the Royals in the semis.
They came back stronger in the next season, under the captaincy of Gautam Gambhir, finishing at the top after the group stage. The team had new and then uncapped players like Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell, who are successful T20 players at present. But just like the previous season, they lost in the semi-finals to the Chargers.
In 2010 they finished fifth under Dinesh Karthik, but the worst came in 2011, when they finished last. They stood first in the league stage in 2012, under Virender Sehwag. The Daredevils lost their first six matches in 2013, and won the seventh one.
They experienced another poor season in 2014. The team finished seventh in the 2015 edition of the tournament. In 2016, they released many of their players, including the last year’s most expensive buy, Yuvraj Singh, whom they had bought for 16 crores. They finished sixth.
In 2017, the Daredevils lost Quinton de Kock and J.P. Duminy, placing dependence on a young batting and bowling line up of Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami, Pat Cummins, Amit Mishra, Shahbaz Nadeem and Jayant Yadav. They repeated their previous year’s feat and ended up sixth on the points table.
In the 2018 auctions, they retained Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris and Rishabh Pant. They finished eighth. In 2019, the team traded Shikhar Dhawan with the Sunrisers Hyderabad, in the process letting go off Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma and Nadeem. Sourav Ganguly was taken in as the team advisor.
They entered the playoffs after seven years, and won the first playoffs against the Sunrisers. They lost the second against CSK and finished third. This was a much better result from the previous seasons, and the change was prominently visible in their performances.
Coming in to 2020, they have again started with a good performance in the first two matches against the Kings XI Punjab and CSK. Although the win against the Punjab franchise remains in doubt with some controversial umpiring decisions which eventually took the match into a super over, what remained a highlight in both the matches was the rise of a team that has always been considered the underdogs.
One or the other player has stood up for the team during need. For example, in the first match, when they did not have a good score to defend, Marcus Stoinis stepped up and scored a 50+ score to take the team past 150. After some superb batting from Mayank Agarwal, when Punjab had almost taken it away from them, Stoinis again came forward, picked two wickets in consecutive balls and pushed the match into the first super over of the season. Inside three balls, Kagiso Rabada had picked KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran, with only 3 runs to score to win the match.
In the second, Prithvi Shaw scored 64 and Rabada again bowled beautifully to pick up three major wickets and beat the mighty CSK by 44 runs. It was a complete team performance with both bat and ball, and currently, they are at the top of the table.
What has probably worked for the Capitals is the young blood rushing through the team, with the zeal to outperform themselves in every match. As Iyer mentioned in the press conference, “It’s important to stick together as a team and we need to enjoy each other’s success.” This might just be the mantra that has worked for them.
This is the thirteenth season and the Delhi franchise has quite a few times missed out on well-deserved opportunities. They have started the season well, and will look to forward their winning streak. The young guns of the Delhi Capitals will give their all and would like to ‘capitalize their chances to end the illusive run towards the IPL trophy.
Cover Credits: IPLT20