The defence of the capital was handed to the Delhi Defenders in EFLI’s debut season. The Defenders lived up to the task and made the city proud with their performances in the first season. Delhi made it all the way to the final of the tournament only to lose out to eventual champions Pune.
Despite their heart breaking loss to the Marathas in the final, the Defenders enjoyed a largely successful campaign. The positives to take forward for the defenders were plenty. A closer investigation of the stats reveals where they excelled, sometimes making a mockery of the opposition.
The passing game for the Defenders was in the hands of Mayank Sharma who put up some stupendous numbers. His tally of 475 yards and 6 touchdowns were only second best to Bangalore’s Jitendra Shetty in the league. His passer rating of 118.7 meanwhile was the third best in 2012. A dangerous weapon for Delhi, Sharma completed 57.1% of his passes (3rd best for quarter-backs having played 50 snaps or more). His mark of 3 touchdowns in a game against the Kandy Skykings remains the highest for a quarter-back in the league so far.
Mayank Sharma’s gaudy numbers were partly due to the presence of a couple of elite wide receivers in the Defenders’ ranks. In Anant Verma, Delhi had one of the most prolific wide men in the league. Verma’s 205 yards as a receiver stand as a testament to the pedigree of the ability he had in the passing game. Verma was well deputed by Rackesh Lohchab, who stood his own in the aerial game. Lohchab was able to contribute through two touchdown catches of his own in addition to the 116 yards he amassed throughout the season.
While the Defenders’ passing provided a real punch, their running game was no slouch either. Lalit Saini’s strong running wreaked havoc on the defense as he made his way to 346 yards and 4 touchdowns. Even when it wasn’t Saini carrying the running of the Defenders didn’t blunt out; Sandeep Kumar along with Nitin Chaudhury ably carried the ball themselves to complement Lalit Saini.
Just like Bangalore, Delhi had a few mishaps regarding fumbles. The Defenders however were able to recover 2 of the 5 fumbles they made.
While the Defenders’ offense was like a dragon breathing fire, the Defense was like the great wall of ice in George R.R. Martin’s famous creation the “Game of Thrones”. The individual stats don’t quite show the rock that was the Defenders’ defense. In the 8 games that the team played in the season, they only conceded 46 points at an average of only 5.75 points per game. This includes 2 shutouts against the Kolkata Vipers and Pakistan Wolkpak. The highest number of points that any one was able to put on Delhi was 14 by the Bangalore Warhawks, in the semi-finals of the tournament.
The kicking responsibility for the Defenders was left to their wide-receiver duo of Anant Verma and Amit Lohchab. With plenty of touchdowns scored by the Defenders, the kickers had ample opportunity to score extra points. While they converted on 54% of their extra point conversions, they only had 33% success with regards to their field goal attempts.
It was again left to the familiar names of Amit Lohchab, Lalit Saini and Sandeep Kumar to carry out the duties on returns. Amit Lohchab was the destructor in-chief when it came to returns. He leads the league in terms of total yards on kick returns with 249 of them in the season. This included an amazing 80 yard return against the Kandy Skykings. When called upon, even Lalit Saini answered the call for the Defenders on returns.
With Delhi already having reached the final of the competition, there is only one more thing to achieve for the team from the nation’s capital. The elusive EFLI trophy will be their target when they take the field in the next season.Published 30 Apr 2014, 15:55 IST