Shreyas Iyer‘s injury, while leaving Delhi Capitals without a leader so close to IPL 2021, has also left them one batsman short in their first-choice XI. Here’s a look at what their top six could look like during the tournament.
For a side that has historically been prone to plenty of chopping and changing, Delhi have, in the recent past, become a more settled batting unit, owing to the emergence of a strong domestic set, around whom the overseas option have ably revolved.
With Iyer, their regular No.3, unavailable for the entirety of the tournament, Delhi would need a long-term option to plug the gap, while ensuring the team’s overall balance doesn’t take a hit.
Here’s a look at a top six that could potentially be their strongest set of options.
You can’t leave this man out. Dhawan’s IPL 2020 campaign swung on the extremes, with two centuries and four fifties interspersed with six single-digit scores. He still ended at an average of 44.14 and strike-rate of 144.73, and his recent showing in the one-day series against England, where he hit two fifties, make him a sure shot option as one opener.
After suffering from a run freeze on the Australia tour, Shaw bounced back in stunning fashion in domestic cricket, totalling 827 runs @ 165.40 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy List A tournament. The recent waterfall of runs should put him back at the top, after spending the last few DC games on the benches in IPL 2020, following a wobbly phase where he managed just one double-digit score in seven innings.
Billings would have had to wait on the sidelines if Shreyas Iyer was fit, but the injury has given a chance for Billings to resume his IPL career, which has seen him play one game in the last two seasons. Shimron Hetmyer is another pick, so is Steve Smith, but Billings definitely has more range in his gameplay to match the versatility of Iyer’s gameplay while also being a handy fielder and a backup keeping option.
The newly-appointed skipper is undoubtedly their middle-order bedrock, bringing both purpose and dependability to the side’s line-up. After two sensational Test series against Australia and England, all eyes will be on Pant in his new role. No.4 will be the ideal position for him – it’s high enough for him to shape the innings, and also late enough to power through at the death.
Stoinis consistently provided Delhi explosive cameos during IPL 2020, taking on bowlers at the death in striking fashion, while also acting as a vital bowling option. Stoinis’ USP lies in his ability to strike the ball from the get-go, and at No.5, he will get enough time to create a lasting impact in the death overs.
A left-field choice to take up one of the middle-order spots, especially since Lalit Yadav is yet to play an IPL game. It would be quite a statement if Lalit manages to keep bigwigs such as Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane out. However, Lalit frees up one overseas option by keeping out Smith in the line-up, leaving Delhi with the option of having two overseas quicks, while providing more firepower at three than Rahane. He strikes the ball at 149.33 in T20 cricket, and also adds off-spin to the side’s bowling options.
The line-up DC might actually go for:
Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stoinis
With Iyer absent, Delhi are likely to trust Ajinkya Rahane’s stability at No.3, a position he briefly occupied during IPL 2020, before moving up the order. While Rahane’s dependability cannot be undermined, and he has two IPL centuries, his form last year was concerning, with an average of 14.12 and a strike-rate of 105.60.
Keeping Rahane in the side over another overseas option (such as Billings or Shimron Hetmyer) gives Delhi the chance to field two foreign pace options – last year, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje livened up DC’s campaign, and keeping both in the first XI could be one of Delhi’s priorities.
Steve Smith, one of Delhi’s biggest buys this year, might also make it to the first XI, given the experience he brings to the side, and his ability to switch gears. Also, in Iyer’s absence, Delhi would want stability in the top four, which Smith’s presence would undoubtedly provide. Hetmyer is another option, and Delhi might end up shuttling between the two for their No.4 spot this year.
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