Delhi Capitals (DC) had their best-ever IPL season last year when they reached their maiden final. However, they were denied their first title by a rampant Mumbai Indians, who won a record-extending fifth title in the competition.
But barring Rohit Sharma's men, who beat the Delhi Capitals in all four games last season, DC had a fabulous IPL campaign, eking out wins in tough games. With Shreyas Iyer brilliantly leading them to back-to-back playoffs, great things have been expected from the team in the upcoming IPL 2021 season.
However, Iyer's shoulder injury has come as a body-blow for the Delhi Capitals. With the 26-year-old ruled out of the tournament, Delhi Capitals have named Rishabh Pant as their stand-in captain.
Nevertheless, despite Iyer's absence, Delhi Capitals could have another strong IPL campaign, as they have several exciting players in their ranks. On that note, let's have a look at five such players who could set the stage alight for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021.
Five Delhi Capitals players to watch out for in IPL 2021
Delhi Capitals have made some exciting additions to what was an already talented roster. With the right balance of youth and experience, this team certainly has the wherewithal to go all the way in the IPL this season.
On that note, here are five players who could have sizzling campaigns and help the team win their first IPL title.
#5 Kagiso Rabada
Arguably one of the best fast bowlers in the game at the moment, Kagiso Rabada has the X-factor, which could come handy for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2021. The Proteas quick had a sensational IPL 2019 season, picking up 25 wickets in just 12 games.
Rabada continued from where he left off, producing an even better campaign as he picked up 30 wickets to win the Purple Cap in IPL 2020.
He formed a deadly bowling combination with compatriot Anrich Nortje as the duo got the better of most of opposition batsmen. The onus will once again be on Rabada this year, as he has been effective whenever he has been asked to bowl.
With the Delhi Capitals having experienced Indian pacers like Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav to bowl up front, Rabada could be used differently in IPL 2021. That would only augur well for the Delhi Capitals' chances of winning the competition.
Get full list of IPL 2021 Captains here.
#4 Marcus Stoinis
Marcus Stoinis is one of the most reliable T20 all-rounders. So quite a few eyebrows were raised when the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) let him go ahead of the IPL 2020 season.
Delhi Capitals snapped up the Australian all-rounder, but they couldn't have predicted the kind of impact Stoinis was going to have.
He was one of the main reasons why Delhi Capitals reached the final last year. Stoinis scored 352 runs in 17 games and was prepared to bat wherever the team wanted him to. He also opened the innings during the playoffs to replace an out-of-form Prithvi Shaw.
With the ball, Stoinis has an uncanny ability to pick wickets. He scalped 13 wickets in IPL 2020 and was one of the best performers for Delhi Capitals.
With Shaw in red-hot form, Stoinis might bat in the middle order and provide the finishing touches to the Delhi Capitals' innings. While opening the batting suits him the best, it is likely that Stoinis would don a floater role in the Delhi Capitals batting lineup in IPL 2021.
#3 Steve Smith
Steve Smith, a name that can raise a few eyebrows, could be a key figure for the Delhi Capitals this season. Arguably one of the best batsmen in the world in ODI and Test cricket, Smith is yet to truly flourish in the shortest format of the game.
Smith had a poor IPL 2020 season by his staggering standards, scoring only 311 runs in 14 games and also failed to lead his Rajasthan Royals team into the playoffs. The franchise then took a big decision of letting their captain go back to the auction pool.
Delhi Capitals snapped up Steve Smith for what could be said as 'the bargain' of the IPL 2021 auction, picking up the former Australian captain for just INR 2.2 crore. It seemed like a baffling move, as Delhi Capitals already have a packed Indian top order. However, Iyer's injury has changed the scenario.
Delhi Capitals might now depend on Smith's experience even more and ask him to anchor the innings. The Australian star himself has a point to prove that he is good enough in the shortest format of the game.
It will be interesting to see Smith's approach in IPL 2021, both as a batsman and as a part of Delhi Capitals' leadership group.
#2 Rishabh Pant
The past few months have been phenomenal for Rishabh Pant, as he has gone from being a back-up wicketkeeper to almost cementing his place for Team India in all three formats. Not long ago, he was replaced by KL Rahul as India's first-choice wicketkeeper in ODIs and T20Is.
However, the 23-year-old bounced back in style, playing some match-defining knocks Down Under that helped India win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1. He was also the Player of the Series in the four Tests against England at home and continued his rich vein of form in the ODIs too.
Pant is one of the main reasons why India have had a successful 2020-21 international season. He has certainly come of age and has shown more responsibility with the bat.
While there were mixed reactions on his appointment as Delhi Capitals captain, Pant has a chance to prove his naysayers wrong once again. With the presence of experienced campaigners like Ravichandran Ashwin, the 23-year-old will fancy his chances of leading the Delhi Capitals from the front in IPL 2021.
Considering his fearless batting style, it will be interesting to see what Rishabh Pant - the captain - conjures this year in the IPL.
#1 Prithvi Shaw
Not many might agree with this name on the list. But the kind of form Prithvi Shaw has been in of late, there might not be a bigger match-winner than the Mumbaikar in the Delhi Capitals' ranks at the moment.
Shaw has seen some appalling lows and incredible highs in the past few months. The 21-year-old lost his place in the Delhi Capitals starting XI towards the end of IPL 2020.
Then a dismal outing in the pink-ball Test against Australia saw the youngster dropped from the Indian team for the remainder of the season. Shaw went back to domestic cricket to prove his mettle.
He set the Vijay Hazare Trophy on fire, helping Mumbai win their fourth title in the competition. The stand-in captain scored a mind-boggling 824 runs in just eight innings, doing so at a stupendous average of 165.4. He also had four centuries to his name, which included an incredible double ton against Puducherry.
If he replicates that form in IPL 2021 and helps Delhi Capitals off to explosive starts, it would certainly help the likes of Pant and Stoinis to flourish and help the team put up competitive totals.
With an aim to get back into the national reckoning, Shaw would be keen to leave his mark in the IPL 2021 season. It remains to be seen if he is able to deliver the goods against world-class bowlers on a consistent basis.