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IPL 2018 Auction: Who will captain Delhi Daredevils in 2018?

CONTRIBUTOR
6.95K   //    17 Jan 2018, 10:42 IST


England v India: 4th Investec Test - Day One
Could Gautam Gambhir take up the reins at Delhi?

Purse remaining with DD after retentions:

Delhi Daredevils is one of the 3 teams moving into the IPL auction 2018 with the intention of buying their captain from the auction pool. The other two teams in the quest of their captain are KKR and KXIP.

Where DD runs into a disadvantage with respect to its competitors, is that Delhi has only 47 crores in their purse, whereas KXIP and KKR have 67.5 and 59 crores respectively. The reason for DD's low purse is because DD decided to retain 3 players, in the form of Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant while KKR and KXIP retained 2 and 1 member of the previous year's squad respectively, ahead of the auctions.

Why does DD not have a captain, despite retaining 3 players?

This is a big question that nobody has asked. It seems strange, when a certain team is retaining 3 players and spending almost 50% of their purse, but are yet looking forward to the auction for their captain. 

My interpretation of this is, among the 3 they have retained, they already have an incumbent captain. It may sound a bit out of the box, when I use the term “incumbent” for a captain. But that is exactly what I mean. DD are likely viewing Rishabh Pant as an incumbent captain. Maybe 2 seasons down the line, they could hand over the captaincy to Rishabh Pant.

Now, the question comes up, about how it can be ascertained that DD will be handing over the captaincy to Pant in future.

For that, the focus needs to shift to the other 2 retentions. Chris Morris is that rare breed of seam bowling all-rounders that are not found in India. IPL, throughout its history has always seen seam bowling all-rounders going for a lot of money, because local Indian players cannot offer the franchise with that variety.

So, his retention was never a surprise. Shreyas Iyer has had a breakthrough season in International Cricket. He made his debut - and scored runs for India - at crucial situations. He is termed to be a long term solution to India's No. 4 conundrum. So, his retention for 11 crores also does not come as a surprise.

However, Rishabh Pant has had a disastrous year after last year’s IPL. He has made a rather inauspicious debut for India in T-20 and his performance in Ranji Trophy has been below average, to say the least. It is worthy to note here, that he was the 3rd player retained by DD, that is he did not only cost Rs 7 crores, but also DD could have saved 12 crores had they gone in with just 2 retentions. So, the simple fact that DD had agreed to spend 12 crore extra for the 3rd player signifies that there is something important at stake here.

Even if the argument that DD could have saved 12 crore INR is ignored, then also the decision to retain Pant purely as a player defies logic, if they had not got special plans for him. Granted, DD was determined to retain an Indian wicketkeeper, who could double up as a top order batsman, but they had Sanju Samson at their disposal, who had had a fabulous Ranji Trophy for Kerala, where he accumulated 627 runs, at an average of over 50.

Experts can always say that 4-day Ranji games should not be compared with the T20 form of IPL, but the fact that Samson scored all those runs at a strike rate of 70.29, only justifies the point further.

So it's not merely a top order wicket keeping batsman that DD retained, it's something Pant offered them and Samson didn't. It is that Pant had already had leadership experience by leading Delhi, but Samson is yet to have any.

But then why "incumbent"? This is because leading domestic players of a Ranji Team are separate from leading international stars like Morris, Rabada, Cummins, Munro and more.

So before Pant becomes the captain of DD, he needs grooming under a senior captain for at least a couple of years.

DD's Budget for captain in the auction:

That brings me back to square one: who will DD be aiming for this year as captain? My answer is, it will be someone senior, with considerable leadership experience. Someone, who can lead the side for a couple of years and then settle into the team mentor's role, such that the young captain is successfully groomed and there are no woes in transition.

Now, before looking at a few options for DD to choose among, let's look at the purse remaining for DD. 47 crores is the purse amount. Even if they spend the whole amount, they need to get around 15 players for 47 crores, which makes it an average of 3 crores per player. So, it can be rest assured that, just for the sake of balance of the side, DD won't go beyond 6 crore bidding for a single player. This is because if they are bidding for more than 6 crores for a single player, they will end up having not enough money to form a standard first 11. This makes it explicit, DD want their captain cheap. They will not have the freedom of KKR or KXIP to splurge amounts greater than 10 crores to buy their captains. So let's look at a few options they might have.

Foreign Probable Captains for DD:

Among the international options, Faf Du Plessis, Brendon Mccullum, Hashim Amla are a few players who satisfy DD's criteria. Now, let us just look back on DD's captaincy issues last year. The senior pro, Zaheer Khan, was given the captaincy duties to begin with, and when he missed a few matches due to niggles, it was Karun Nair, who was handed captaincy. Karun was handed captaincy, when the team had prominent internationals like De- Cock, Morris, Rabada etc. It's very clear from such a decision, that DD favours Indian Captains, ahead of foreign ones.

Another issue with all these foreign players, I mentioned above is, all of them, love the ball coming onto the bat, which is not the case with the Kotla pitch. Amla is the only player who has had reasonable success in playing spin on low slow tracks, but he has got almost no experience in T20 ;eadership, which works against him.

Probable Indian captains for DD:

1.   Ravichandran Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin tops the list of Indian probable leaders for DD. Ashwin is the ideal captain that DD would be willing to buy. He will give them 4 good overs on the Kotla pitch. In addition to that, he is the ideal No. 7 the team wants to have, if the team top order suffers a collapse.

But my assumption is Ashwin will not be the one DD will be getting in the auction, because, Ashwin will be getting sold at too high a price. KXIP, SRH as well as his former franchise CSK, will be willing to splurge their purses for Ashwin.

KXIP will be desperate to get Ashwin as a leadership option, whereas SRH will be willing to solve their lower middle order woes and middle overs bowling with Ashwin. Indian internationals are extremely few and hard to come by in the auction pool.

So, Ashwin's price in the auction, because of his effectiveness with both bat and ball, as well as his experience with the national side, will be touching 10 crores. The amount may seem a bit exorbitant for Ashwin, because he is out of the limited overs side for the past one year. B quality Indian spinners are the ones, franchises break their banks on, like Murugan Ashwin (Rs 4.5 crores), get sold for huge amounts. The conclusion hence is DD, inspite of willing to buy Ashwin will lose out in the bidding process.

2. Ajinkya Rahane

Let us come to the next interesting Indian option, Rahane. Rahane, as a player, does not offer the multidimensional approach of Ashwin. But a lot of teams maybe looking upon him as a prospective leader: his leadership stint in the Dharamsala Test match against Australia got a lot of accolades. What works in DD's favour is that, there is an opportunity that he may go for a price of around 6 crores, specially considering that there would be primarily 2 franchises except DD, who will be fighting for him; KKR and KXIP. So, if one of the franchises give up at a price of around 5 crores and look for a different captain, Rahane's price could well stay within 6 crores. Now, if Rahane is available within 6 crores, RR will definitely apply RTM on him, thus eliminating DD's chances of clinging onto 'Jinx'.

3. Other Indian Captains

Now, let us look at a few more Indian options. Indians with considerable leadership experience are few. The fact that Dhawan and Vijay have had negligible leadership experience, does not help their cause and they are not likely to be picked as captains.

4. Gautam Gambhir

Finally comes the most obvious option remaining; Gautam Gambhir. He has had a very successful stint with KKR, bringing them 2 IPL titles. So, his experience as a leader can’t be questioned. He is already 36, and seems to be the ideal candidate to mentor Pant into a future leader. It must also be noted that Gambhir and Pant play together for Delhi and the former was the one who recommended to the DDCA to hand over the captaincy responsibility of the Delhi Ranji team to Pant at such a young age.

So, not only will Gambhir's valuable IPL leadership experience be of worth to Pant, but both of them are also comfortable to work as a team of mentor mentee.

Conclusion

Now, comes the more evident question. What if KKR applies RTM on Gambhir? Just after the Ranji Final on 31st December, Gambhir came out and publicly said that KKR officials are yet to approach him on discussing his future with KKR.

That was only 4 days before the retentions were announced. If KKR had planned to retain Gambhir via RTM (at a lower price) the message would have been conveyed to him much earlier and his inputs would have been asked for about building the team.

The fact that no communication about his future with KKR was done indicates that there is no future of GG with KKR.  Thus, at the end of the logical analysis, the final deduction comes up that Gautam Gambhir will be the captain of Delhi Daredevils, in IPL 11.

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CONTRIBUTOR
A mechanical engineer by profession and a sports blogger by hobby
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