IPL 2017: Delhi Daredevils' dilemma of overseas players
Non-availability of overseas players has hurt Delhi but given the strength of their available overseas players, Delhi still looks strong.
Nothing seems to go right for the Delhi Daredevils in this year’s IPL. After a series of erratic performances from their top players and a few close defeats, their chances of reaching the play-offs have extinguished. And with three more matches to go in this season, the team management would have at least expected to bid adieu to IPL 2017 on a high note. But, the team has to deal with another pressing issue now – the unavailability of key overseas players.
Sam Billings has already departed while Angelo Mathews has recently left Delhi to join his national team. The two South Africans who formed the core of Delhi’s playing XI this season, Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris have also now opted out of this year’s IPL and would instead wear the green and yellow of South Africa.
Thus, the departure of four overseas players has left Delhi with only five options for the rest of their IPL journey. Pace bowlers Pat Cummins and Ben Hilfenhaus, all-rounders Corey Anderson and Carlos Brathwaite, and a top order batsman, Marlon Samuels.
The Delhi team management will at least be happy with the fact that the remaining overseas players specialise in various departments, thus offering them some flexibility while choosing their playing XI.
On 10th May, Delhi lock horns against Gujarat Lions, a team which has fallen out of the race for the playoffs as well. However, the Lions have a strong batting line-up and as Dwayne Smith proved against Kings XI, if they get a sniff, it is ‘game over’ for the opposition.
Bowling has always remained the biggest asset for Delhi and to stop the Gujarat batsmen, their bowlers will have to step up. However in the absence of Rabada and Morris who will Delhi bank on?
Four overseas bowlers against Gujarat
Pat Cummins offers the advantage of pace but as Delhi found more often than not in this IPL, his pace can backfire quickly. He is their second highest wicket taker but has also leaked runs at the rate of 8.28 per over. Additionally, he hasn’t picked up more than two wickets in any innings. Hence, while featuring Cummins, Delhi will also have to provide him with a cover in case he goes for plenty.
Brathwaite was used for only one game (the opener against RCB) while Hilfenhaus is still to play a match in this year’s IPL. But both of them have the skills to cope up with the challenges of T20 when it comes to rolling their arms over. Cory Anderson may not have bowled with much authority so far but he will surely find a place in the playing XI courtesy of his batting skills.
So it seems that against Gujarat, Delhi will include Anderson and Cummins in their playing eleven. The uncertainty remains over Samuels’ selection. Given Gujarat’s batting strength, Delhi should go with four overseas bowlers which mean including both Brathwaite and Hilfenhaus in the playing XI with Samuels being the odd one out.
The exclusion of Samuels may reduce Delhi’s batting strength but Brathwaite and Anderson, as we all know, can come in handy with the willow as well.
Marlon Samuels, the X factor against Pune
On May 12th Delhi faces a tough match against Rising Pune Supergiant who have already qualified for the play-off but are looking for a top two finish.
Although Pune’s batting has been effective this season they have faced the problem of inconsistency as well. Their weak link is their bowling department and hence Marlon Samuels could well turn out to be the X-factor in this match.
Pune relies a lot on Imran Tahir for picking up wickets in the middle overs and hence if Samuels attacks the leg-spinner, Delhi will be able to defuse Pune’s bowling might. Jaydev Unadkat has emerged as a reliable death over bowler but Delhi can rely on one of Anderson or Brathwaite to have a go at him with success.
Hence against Pune, Daredevils should opt for a top order batsman, an all-rounder and two pace bowlers which mean picking Samuels, Anderson and two players from the lot of Brathwaite, Cummins, and Hilfenhaus. Batting abilities offer Brathwaite an edge while Cummins’ form so far could and should force his selection leaving out Hilfenhaus.
Bowlers key against RCB
Delhi’s last game of this season is against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 14th. Collective batting failure has pushed RCB at the end of the points table and their team is facing the issue of being low on confidence.
While playing against a team whose batsmen are already under immense pressure, Delhi should field a strong bowling attack which includes all their overseas bowlers. Samuels may again find himself warming the benches, but against RCB having four quality pace bowlers is a huge advantage which Delhi will look to ride home.
RCB’s bowlers lack experience, thus Delhi’s young batting unit can fancy their chances against them. Without Samuels, Delhi’s top order is vulnerable but the team can benefit from sending a pinch hitter at the top and Brathwaite could be the ideal batsman for this role.
The absence of Morris and Rabada is surely going to hurt Delhi but given their available options, the team can still hope for some damage control. They have little options with their overseas players but as mentioned earlier there is variety in their overseas players which will help them.
Delhi’s success in the upcoming games depends on the performance of their overseas players and also on the support given to them by their Indian players.