Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 October 2019

Shreyas Iyer-led Delhi Capitals can replace Chennai Super Kings as IPL's next dynasty

Young side are long-term champions in the making as rivals go through period of transition

Delhi Capitals have a team worthy of being Indian Premier League champions sooner than later. Robert Cianflone / Getty Images
Delhi Capitals have a team worthy of being Indian Premier League champions sooner than later. Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

Mumbai Indians may have won the Indian Premier League title by the skin of their teeth this year, but they were far from being the most exciting team in the competition.

In fact, there were far from being the most exciting team in blue; Delhi Capitals being deserving winners of that unofficial title.

There is little surprise Mumbai lifted the trophy for a record fourth time, given they had all the elements to do so: a settled side including stars of the calibre of captain Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock, the experienced pair of Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard, and exciting players, most notably the Pandya brothers and Jasprit Bumrah.

On the other hand, Delhi began this season as underdogs, which is not surprising for two reasons: their win percentage until 2018 was an abysmal 42.45, and they were taken over by new management hence were always going to need a little time to settle down.

The management began its new innings on the backfoot by changing the name of the franchise from the evocative Daredevils to the more prosaic Capitals, which drew plenty of derision and criticism.

However, it also made some inspired calls, retaining Shreyas Iyer as captain and Ricky Ponting as coach, roping in Sourav Ganguly as mentor, recalling experienced opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and putting together a formidable bowling attack.

The result? Delhi made the play-offs for the first time in seven years. In fact, they were so good this season their supporters will have every right to be disappointed their team did not reach the final.

That said, the fans must keep in mind this team is very young – the average age is just 26. They have in their squad the world’s best fast bowler (Kagiso Rabada), the most exciting batsman of the future (Rishabh Pant) and the most exciting bowler of the future (Sandeep Lamichhane). In short, they have all the ingredients needed to build a dynasty that will last for at least a decade.

And build a dynasty Delhi must. It is what Chennai Super Kings, runners-up this year, did so well from Year Zero.

MS Dhoni has led from the front since 2008, but he also had the services of Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the best part of a decade. In other words, they kept the core of the side even as other franchises chose to make big buys at the draft year after year.

Interestingly, when Chennai did look for reinforcements, they went for experienced players such as Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson, their emphasis on experience being crystal clear.

Dhoni dropped a hint at the conclusion of the season the Super Kings, whose average age is 33, may be considering a clear out. This means they will look elsewhere to see what players they can lure over to the three-time champions.

This also suggests the likes of the Capitals will find it challenging to keep their flock together. Money talks in sport, especially in franchise cricket, and players should not be grudged the temptation to sign on to a better deal with another club.

If Delhi keep their core – one that includes Shreyas as captain, Dhawan, Pant, Prithvi Shaw, Rabada and Lamichhane – there is little doubt Ponting, with a little help from Ganguly, will mould them into serial champions.

The centre of IPL’s gravity is all set for move from the west and the south to the north of the subcontinent – provided they manage to keep all their moving parts intact.

Updated: May 15, 2019 08:13 AM

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