DC were among the smartest teams in the IPL 2021 auction. Steve Smith, Tom Curran and Sam Billings joined the already strong overseas contingent at the franchise, while Umesh Yadav and Lukman Meriwala were signed to beef up the pace attack. Young left-arm spinner M Siddharth was the final addition to the DC roster.
Under the captaincy of 23-year-old Rishabh Pant, DC will aim to build on their run to the final last year and go all the way this time. But a number of factors could trouble them in IPL 2021, which is expected to be even more tightly contested than the last season.
Here are 3 reasons why DC will not win IPL 2021.
#3 DC's batting order isn't settled
Shikhar Dhawan is expected to be one half of the DC opening combination in IPL 2021, but a number of other slots in the batting order are up for grabs.
Prithvi Shaw is the frontrunner for the other opener's slot, which has Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis as the other contenders. If Shaw pips the others to the role, Rahane would have to bat at No. 3, where he clearly isn't comfortable.
The next dilemma DC have to address is the final overseas spot, which is expected to be a straight shoot-out between Smith and Shimron Hetmyer. Smith seems to be ahead of the West Indian right now, simply because of the experience he brings. But if Smith plays (at either No. 3 or No. 4) and Hetmyer doesn't, Pant will be pushed down to No. 5, where his abilities may not be maximized.
DC's batting order doesn't wear a settled look, and this could prove to be DC's Achilles heel in IPL 2021.
#2 DC have too many sedate batsmen
Lack of clarity isn't the only issue with DC's batting lineup for IPL 2021.
A top four of Shaw, Dhawan, Smith and Rahane has far too many sedate batsmen who aren't exactly natural stroke-makers. This would put immense pressure on Pant and Stoinis to up the ante in the middle overs and at the death.
While Shaw does take the attack to the opposition early on, he might be under a bit of pressure after his below-par season last year. And if he decides to take his time to get his eye in, he and Dhawan will have to make up for lost time after the powerplay, which is easier said than done.
Smith and Rahane, both of whom are quality players in their own right, are best suited to the powerplay. Outside it, they may not be able to find the boundary as regularly as they'll need to.
DC might be forced to play Hetmyer to address this problem, which in turn has its own shortcomings. Pant and coach Ricky Ponting will take a hard look at how to solve this, but there doesn't seem to be a clear-cut solution.
#1 Shreyas Iyer's injury
This reason envelops the other two to a certain extent, but Shreyas Iyer's absence will be felt in more ways than one.
Iyer subluxated his left shoulder while diving during India's recent ODI series against England and underwent surgery for the same. He has been ruled out of the entirety of the IPL 2021 season, despite initial reports suggesting that he'll be available for the latter half of the campaign.
Iyer leaves a massive hole at No. 3 in the batting lineup. He rescued the team from top-order collapses numerous times in IPL 2020, and his calming influence will be missed dearly.
His replacement, Rishabh Pant, is in a purple patch. But the youngster has only ever captained the Delhi domestic side before, and the appointment could take a heavy toll on his batting.
The absence of Iyer might hit DC like a truck in IPL 2021 and is one of the biggest reasons why they may not go all the way.