Let’s look at our Vivo IPL history, shall we? In the ten seasons so far, we’ve topped the league table once, made the top four thrice, languished at the bottom three times and finished mid-table or lower four times. It doesn’t take a critic to criticise that record. The management, the fans, and the players themselves will be the first to admit that the Daredevils haven’t managed to harness their potential. But, a less-than-successful past is no projection of what the future holds for you. Sport, as we know it, always provides another opportunity to redeem yourselves. For the Delhi Daredevils, Vivo IPL 2018 is just that opportunity.
The first masterstroke in that endeavour was the appointment of Ricky Ponting as Head Coach. His reputation precedes him, a three-time World Cup Champion and one of the fiercest competitors the game has seen. Simply put, he knows how to win, and he knows a winner when he sees one. It is invaluable to have someone like that picking your squad out for you, and the result is in front of you.
In the lead up to the auction, a lot of work went on behind the scenes as well with Sriram Sreedharan, the Assistant Coach, and Pravin Amre, the Head of Talent Scouting, keeping an eye out for uncapped talent. To put the work into perspective, ten out of twenty-five of our squad members are uncapped.
That was the team, let’s get down to the auction. What the Delhi management did extremely well was laying out a clear-cut auction strategy. A wish-list of players who fit into their plans and an upper-limit of amounts that they would go to in order to secure a player. There were no impulsive decisions made. Ponting and his team didn’t let emotions run high. We got out of multiple bidding wars as soon as things started escalating. This list includes some big names and some in-form players such as Chris Lynn, Rashid Khan, Shane Watson, D’Arcy Short and Jofra Archer.
On the contrary, we got some absolute steals, steals that could get Ponting and co. on CBI’s wanted list. We picked up hard-hitting opener Jason Roy at base price. New Zealand’s Colin Munro, the only man with three T20I centuries to his name, was purchased at INR 1.9 crores. In the context of things and with the quality of his batting in mind, that is nominal. Gautam Gambhir at INR 2.8 crores and Trent Boult at INR 2.2 crores also make that list. Glenn Maxwell, at INR 9 crores was the only player we stretched our budgets for. But then again, he is “The Big Show”.
Gambhir’s return to Delhi is massive. It was probably the biggest talking point from the auction. Gambhir fits right in with Ponting’s ideologies. He too, is a champion, and knows how to win and make winners out of his men. “We had a chat with Gautam ahead of the auction and he expressed genuine desire to come back to Delhi,” said Ponting. And why wouldn’t he? The crowds out there love him. More importantly, it’s home.
It’s not just Gambhir who’s returning, though. Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Chris Morris were retained ahead of the auctions. Sriram Sreedharan holds the trio in very high regard. “We’ve retained who we believe is the best all-rounder in the world, and two young guns who can be the next Raina and Rohit,” said Sriram.
A player’s confidence in himself and sense of loyalty for his team are bound to grow when the management believes in them. The Delhi management are doing just that with promising players. Kagiso Rabada and Mohammed Shami were brought back with the Right to Match option. Amit Mishra, Shahbaz Nadeem and Jayant Yadav, who played for the same outfit last season, were bought during the course of the auction. This roster of 25 players includes eight who played for us last season and a total of 11 who have played for us at some point in the history of the IPL.
The first adjective that comes to mind after looking at the roster for the 2018 season is “balanced”. It has the perfect blend of youth and experience as well as the right mix of batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders and keepers. We’ve got some uber-talented teenagers with the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Manjot Kalra and Abhishek Sharma and some established stalwarts such as Gambhir, Maxwell and Shami joining them. 17-year-old Sandeep Lamichhane has already created history and made his country proud after becoming the first Nepali to earn an IPL contract, and he can turn the ball square. There are 10 all-rounders to provide the balance to a squad that has 13 specialist batsmen and bowlers. Also, there is the problem of plenty, which is a great problem to have.
You’ve got pairs of overseas players that perform similar roles. With only four spots up for grabs in the playing XI, will it be Jason Roy or Colin Munro? Will it be Kagiso Rabada or Trent Boult? Will it be Chris Morris or Dan Christian? There are going to be a few selection headaches, but these headaches are good to have. The second-choice player for a role will keep the first-choice on his toes and provide a back-up in case injuries strike.
The 2018 Delhi Daredevils squad has all bases covered and it packs a punch! Iyer you ready? A lot Morris coming.
Here is a look at the 25-man squad for the VIVO IPL 2018:
Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris, Shreyas Iyer, Glenn Maxwell, Gautam Gambhir, Jason Roy, Colin Munro, Mohammed Shami, Kagiso Rabada, Amit Mishra, Prithvi Shaw, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Daniel Christian, Jayant Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh, Trent Boult, Manjot Kalra, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Naman Ojha, Sayan Ghosh.