The Delhi Capitals (DC) had their best-ever campaign in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year. Shreyas Iyer's side reached the final for the first time, and although they fell to the Mumbai Indians, they lived up to the lofty expectations they had going into the tournament.
And understandably, DC have retained the core players who took them to the final. Ricky Ponting and the team management released fringe players like Alex Carey and Sandeep Lamichhane, while Jason Roy - who pulled out of last year's tournament - was also let go.
Retained Players: Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin, Rishabh Pant, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav, Anrich Nortje, Daniel Sams, Pravin Dubey, Chris Woakes
Released Players: Alex Carey, Keemo Paul, Tushar Deshpande, Sandeep Lamichhane, Mohit Sharma, Jason Roy
Trades (OUT): Harshal Patel, Daniel Sams
Here are 3 areas of concern for DC ahead of the IPL 2021 live auction.
#3 DC need a solid Indian pacer to support Rabada and Nortje
DC's South African duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje was absolutely deadly in IPL 2020. While the former was always expected to do well, Nortje impressed all with his raw pace and accuracy after coming in as a replacement for Chris Woakes.
However, Rabada and Nortje had little support throughout IPL 2020. Marcus Stoinis didn't bowl very often, and the Indian pacer that DC fielded - one of Mohit Sharma, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan - was expensive more often than not.
Ishant Sharma suffered an injury, leaving DC completely short of options in the domestic fast bowling department. Deshpande and Mohit have been released, while Patel has been traded away to the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
As a result, DC need an Indian pacer who can complement their dynamic overseas duo. There are a number of viable options in the IPL 2021 auction pool such as Umesh Yadav, who could return to his former team.
#2 DC must target backup all-rounders in the auction
After releasing Harshal Patel and Daniel Sams, DC have very few players who can contribute in both departments on a consistent basis. Keemo Paul, who warmed the bench in the UAE, has also been released.
Stoinis didn't bowl very often in IPL 2020, while Axar Patel hasn't made his mark with the bat in the league yet apart from a couple of promising cameos. Chris Woakes, who didn't play for the side last year, is another option. But he might not find a place in the playing XI due to the high competition for overseas slots.
DC will definitely be on the lookout for a quality all-rounder (ideally Indian) who can guarantee at least a couple of overs and a few runs. They will also want to add some weight to their lower-middle order, which was often a bit thin with Axar batting at No. 7.
#1 DC will look to sign wicket-keepers
Alex Carey got a few games in IPL 2020 after Rishabh Pant suffered an injury, but he failed to impress. And he has now been released by DC ahead of this year's auction.
The team management will be fully aware that they have only one wicket-keeper on the roster in Pant, and this is a concern as there are very few options available in the IPL 2021 auction pool. Overseas players like Sam Billings might be considered by DC, while Indian glovemen with prior IPL experience like Nikhil Naik might be good enough backups.
Either way, DC need to ensure that they have a solid backup wicket-keeper for Pant.