The IPL is being played not in India but UAE this year. On top of that, only three stadiums, one in Dubai, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Sharjah, will host a combined total of 60 games over the course of the next two months.
Delhi Capitals’ fans might have a lot to look forward to this season. A title run could not be that far for the Delhi Capitals, who have one of the most potent and varied bowling attacks going into the tournament, particularly their spin contingent.
“In both (fast and spin bowling), we’ve got a great mix of experience and youth, which allows us to be flexible, and use these resources according to a given situation,” says Ryan Harris, the bowling coach of Delhi Capitals.
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Central to the spin arsenal of Delhi are two veterans of the tournament, both at different yet similar stages in their careers.
In Ravichandran Ashwin, who last played for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, Delhi have a proven world class spinner who isn’t hindered by any particular challenge.
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His vast experience of playing in the IPL, particularly at the Chepauk for Chennai Super Kings, juxtaposed with the expected slow and low nature of UAE pitches, could very well make it a defining season for the off-spinner.
Be it with the new ball, or in the middle, or even at the fag end of the innings, Ashwin has over the years, shown his versatility. Ashwin’s partnership with Amit Mishra, the old Delhi warhorse, could be one of the highlights of the tournament.
“I have known him (Ashwin) for a long time, and we are quite a different set of bowlers, so it is going to be really exciting to team up with him from the other end,” says Amit Mishra.
Mishra last played for India in a T20 in 2017. With the leg-spinner touching 38 in a few months, the door for one last hurrah could be closing for him sooner than one thinks.
“At the moment my focus is on the IPL and I want to give my best for Delhi Capitals. If there is ever an opportunity in the Indian team, in any format, I will always be ready,” added Mishra.
Both Mishra and Ashwin have fallen down the pecking order in the limited overs. Their performance in the upcoming IPL might be extremely crucial for the duo, and for their individual legacies. And you could be sure they know it too.
Alongside Mishra and Ashwin are Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamicchane, offering another set of options to the team management.
“The IPL is a long tournament, and having many options is always a bonus for the captain and coach. I am sure they will utilise all the bowlers depending on the situation,” Mishra says.
The one thing that strikes you instantly when you look at the DC squad is the sheer quality of its Indian contingent. There’s Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer, the core of India’s future in batting. Side by side with them are Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan, the seniors from the generation before them. In the bowling department they have Ashwin, Axar, Mishra, Ishant, Mohit Sharma and Harshal Patel.
While they do have excellent overseas players like Kagiso Rabada, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey and others, DC can very well play games with 3 or even two foreign players without losing out on quality, a luxury that most IPL teams can’t afford.
“The top order makes the team really exciting with the talent they have, and most importantly they are Indians, so we get that kind of freedom to pick our best 4 overseas players as well,” says Vijay Dahiya, Delhi Capitals’ Head Talent Scout.
The only concern for DC could be the lack of a designated finisher in their squad. A clarity on that front pretty early in the tournament could help Capitals turn this season into a historic one for the franchise.
Possible XI: Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Harshal Patel, Kagiso Rabada, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Sandeep Lamichhane