Desh Gaurav Sekhri on Delhi Daredevils

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In what has been the most unlikely turnaround this season, the Delhi Daredevils (“DD”) have gone from perennial underachievers to quietly confident front-runners. Starting the season in expected fashion with a trouncing at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders, DD have since turned it around, and how. Since their opener, the DD have lost just one more game, that too by a solitary run, to the current league leaders the Gujarat Lions.

The Daredevils are one of just two teams from the inaugural batch of eight who are yet to win an IPL title, with the Kings XI Punjab being the other, and unlike Punjab, are yet to even reach the finals. Frequent victims to injudicious purchases at the player auctions, injuries to key players, or unlucky in their choices of squads, everything has worked out well for the Daredevils thus far, including the quietly confident captaincy of Zaheer Khan.

What has also worked out well for Delhi is the consistency and match-winning effort of each of the overseas players, some of whom were considered risky purchases at the auction. With a heavily skewed overseas lineup leaning towards South Africans, Chris Morris is having a season to remember and contributing as the key all-rounder, wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock is giving the team frequent flyers as the opener, and JP Duminy is the backbone of the middle order. T20 World Cup hero Carlos Braithwaite adds to an already balanced side, and newcomer Sam Billings has already scored a fifty.

With arguably the strongest spinner lineup with Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir, and an enviable pace lineup of Morris, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Khan, and now-healthy Mohammad Shami, Delhi is the team to beat. And there’s more- Delhi has the most talented Indian youngsters in Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant and Karun Nair and each is performing well. IPL 9 is Delhi’s to lose, and although it may not be easy, including a tougher than touted match with Pune tonight, Rahul Dravid’s mentorship may just be the mantra to end the Daredevil’s drought and help Delhi win the elusive trophy.

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