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IPL 2014: Delhi Daredevils - Rally behind Kevin Pietersen

  • Season Preview of Kevin Pietersen-led Delhi Daredevils
FEATURED WRITER
Modified 16 Jan 2015, 00:54 IST

Kevin Pietersen needs to find the right team combination

If an outsider has a look at the Delhi Daredevils squad, the first question that would pop up in his/her mind is who has been entrusted with the role of captaincy, given that the role of coaches in cricket has become restricted.

For a case in point, look at what happens with Chennai Super Kings: Although they have a top notch tactician in Stephen Fleming, the team pretty much takes the MS Dhoni way of playing cricket, with Fleming being restricted to man-management. At the maximum, he can come up with suggestions over which Dhoni has the final say, as revealed by Fleming himself during the IPL last year.

Coming back to the Daredevils, Kevin Pietersen will be the one taking up the captaincy mantle. Could it have been better? I don’t think so (they could have wished for Rahul Dravid from RR, but he’s retired). Now, why is captaincy so important with the Delhi-based team?

Look at the composition of the squad. They have a slew of players in contention for the 6 (7) batting positions, and, with the exception of Pietersen himself, the others have either been misused terribly so far (read: Manoj Tiwary, Kedhar Jadhav, Saurabh Tiwary) or overrated (read: Murali Vijay and Quinton de Kock in subcontinental conditions).

A clueless captain, like Pune Warriors’ Aaron Finch in IPL 2013, can end up hurting the team big time. Had this squad been given to Finch and the Warriors, it would take a season for them to understand that they are doing it wrong and a season more to find ways to nullify the issues. Chances are that they would still have arrived at the wrong issues to fix.

You may have tried putting up the final playing 11 of all the teams, at least those who play fantasy cricket would have done it, and, once DD release their playing 11, look how far you have been off with respect to the way you have filled up the top 7.

What should the Daredevils playing 11 be, and what will it be (at least for the first few matches)? Where will they end up? What are the tactical shifts they need to make? I try to answer all the questions here.

First things first: Let’s just take Quinton De Kock out of the equation, or else the very thought of having to explain why a subcontinental team doesn’t need De Kock will get on my nerves and reflect in the tone of the article.

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He is a South African top order batsman. He is not AB de Villiers. He can’t attack spinners.

While these may be enough, I have got more, too. He averages 13.33 in 3 T20Is in Sri Lanka (strike rate – 81.63) and 12.80 in 5 T20Is in Bangladesh (strike rate – 98.46), scoring a combined 104 runs in 8 innings in conditions similar to what he will be facing in the IPL. He has batted so poorly that knocks such as 38-ball 48* and 19-ball 30 at the UAE against Pakistan have to be considered as exceptions.

Moreover, in the 19-ball 30, he faced only 3 balls from spinners – 1 from Shoaib Malik and 2 from Saeed Ajmal – with majority of his runs coming against the pacers, before getting out to a spinner finally.

In the ODIs as well, he averages only 18.33 in Sri Lanka, scoring a paltry 55 runs in 3 matches. Again there are 3 knocks with scores of 40, 112 and 34 in the ODIs against Pakistan that may mislead you into believing that De Kock can be tried on the UAE decks. Dig deeper, as these stats can hoodwink you.

Let’s leave the 112 alone, and take into account the 40 and 34. Out of the 98 balls he faced to score those 74 runs spread over two matches, 33 were bowled by spinners. He managed to score only 18 runs off them, besides being dismissed by spinners – Ajmal and Shahid Afridi – on both those occasions. What does that mean? Being an opener, he has got off to a good start against pacers, who are used to bowl 5-over spells in ODIs, but, as soon as spinners are brought into the attack, his struggles have begun and eventually he has been put out of his misery.

The century is the only thing that stands in the way of establishing him as a poor player against spin. To that, I say, Yusuf Pathan has a 70-ball 105 in South Africa against a pace attack that had the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel; it doesn’t mean he can play on bouncy tracks.

I don’t say that De Kock will forever remain this way. He can certainly improve, but let us not hype him to the hilt. He surely doesn’t deserve a place as of now, even as a wicket-keeper. The 4 foreigner slots are pure gold, and need players of the highest calibre from the available lot. De Kock isn’t one, and I trust in Pietersen to get this right.


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Published 16 Apr 2014, 12:37 IST
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