x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Indian Premier League: Star-studded Delhi Daredevils are a constellation

Delhi's big names have to come together as a team to shine bright and shed the chokers' tag, writes Osman Samiuddin.

Delhi Daredevils have big names such as, from second left, captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Virender Sehwag. Punit Paranjpe / AFP
Delhi Daredevils have big names such as, from second left, captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Virender Sehwag. Punit Paranjpe / AFP

The history of the Indian Premier League may be short, but already the great narrative of all sports are emerging within it. For example, the Delhi Daredevils, it can be argued, have swiftly become the league's perennial chokers.

They have the third-best win percentage in the league (behind Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians). They are regularly among the front-runners but flounder as the season progresses; last season they finished top of the league table, but lost both qualifiers in the knockouts.

But in their own way, they are, like Chennai, the team of the capital city, flush full of the starriest players and under stable, steady ownership (GMR is an infrastructural company behind some of the biggest recent projects in India).


On paper the Daredevils always have one of the best squads. Led by Mahela Jayawardene, one of the game's sharpest leaders; one of the format's most dangerous openers in David Warner (another handy, if failing, presence in Virender Sehwag); India's fastest bowler Umesh Yadav; not forgetting of course, the world's superstar Kevin Pietersen; not winning a title with that kind of talent is inexplicable.

This season the Daredevils will again be among the favourites and who knows, this may finally be the season they break through properly.

They have bought well pre-season, they have a solid mix of local and foreign players and given that teams such as the (now-defunct) Deccan Chargers, Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders have won the IPL, this really could be Delhi's year.

Star foreign signing

The franchise has made some astute purchases this season in the Sri Lankan Jeevan Mendis and South African Johan Botha.

With guys such as Warner and Pietersen already there, you would be hard-pressed to find a more exciting foreign name.

Except that they have gone and bought Jesse Ryder, one of the most gifted (but troubled) New Zealand batsmen.

If he can keep away from the greatly-reduced-but-not-entirely-gone party circuit around the league, Ryder could be the season's pivotal buy.

Star Indian player

The Daredevils have had some decent fast bowlers over the years: Mohammad Asif, Glenn McGrath (though he barely played), Dirk Nannes, Irfan Pathan. But the most exciting one, at least in Indian eyes, is also on their books.

Yadav could be, consistently, the quickest bowler India have had in the age of the speed gun. He is smart too, as he has shown in the little time he has played for India.

A back injury - thought initially to be a stress fracture - has kept him out since the early days of the England series last year, but he has resumed training and is set to be back at full pace by the time the IPL starts.

Previous history

The Daredevils were semi-finalists in the first two seasons and made the play-offs comfortably last season. But on each occasion they have failed to get past that stage.

One of the traditional powerhouses in the league, but will be increasingly frustrated by their inability to win a title their stature deserves.


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