From 2011 to 2015, the Delhi Daredevils were the perpetual wooden-spooners of the Indian Premier League. The outfit seemed engulfed in endless problems of sorts, and the daredevilry exhibited by the team in 2009 and 2012 was completely lost.
New captains, new players, new staff and new team management, the habitual under-achievers altered themselves each year to break-free from the shackles of predicament.
In 2016, the outfit’s think-tank, which comprised of Dravid, coach Paddy Upton and newly appointed captain Zaheer Khan, went awfully wrong with their decisions. They kept making too many changes to the side, and trying new combinations in the batting order even after winning a game. They underused valuable players (remember how talents like Carlos Brathwaite and Sam Billings were benched?) The horses for courses route backfired on Delhi.
New Season, Old Story
It would be only wise of anybody to think that the errors from 2016 would not be repeated in 2017, especially after the team’s awry management came under the scanner last year.
Already this season the Daredevils have lost 3 of their 5 games on the back of mistakes repeated from the ninth edition. If retrospection is to be done, the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad was marred by poor decision-making by the management.
However, it would be unfair to make Dravid the scapegoat for poor decision-making. It is unknown if it is the coach, the captain, or mentor who has the final say. But it can be argued that Dravid knows the Indian youngsters better than Upton, and since he is the greatest of all time, one expects him to make wiser decisions. If at all someone else is making the blunders, the mentor can always counter.
Bad Judgement Calls?
1. On Wednesday night, Shreyas Iyer’s late onslaught was not enough to get the better of the 2016 title winners at their fortress. Long story cut short, Delhi lost by 15 runs.
The first error by the Delhi think-tank was keeping Amit Mishra away for the first 9 overs. Delhi seemed content with Warner’s early dismissal, which is why maybe the leggie wasn’t entrusted to bowl in the powerplay.
Mishra , most successful spinner in IPL, could have at least been tried before Kane Williamson settled down, remembering that the Kiwi struggled against spinners in the ODI series late last year, in which Mishra played an instrumental role. But once Williamson settled down, he slapped the leggie for 19 runs in one over.
2. Bizarre move No. 2 was to not play Shreyas Iyer higher up the order. A hard hitter of the ball, Iyer was slotted at the top alongside Quinton de Kock last season. But this time around, Samson and Billings are opening the innings. While the former has not let down, Billings hasn’t played the type of knock expected from an opener. 5th position for an in-form Iyer seems too late for a big score since. Perhaps Billings can be dropped and Iyer can be sent to bat at No. 3.
3. The most shocking of all strategical blunders was to send Chris Morris at No. 6, when the required run rate had gone up to over 10 runs an over. The South African all-rounder, who boasts a strike rate of 177 in the IPL, should have been brought into the attack before Angelo Mathews, who not only wasted many balls to settle down, but also could put pressure on Shreyas Iyer at the other end. The hard-hitting Morris didn’t face a single ball!
4. Another remarkably irrational move was to bench Shahbaz Nadeem against both KKR and Hyderabad, after he boasted an economy of 4.9 in the first three games. And as if Delhi want to dig their own grave, an out of form Karun Nair continues to be included in the playing XI, and bats ahead of an in-form Iyer and Rishabh Pant.
Coming to Rishabh Pant, the 19-year old India international needs to bat higher up the order, open the innings maybe, since he can use the field restrictions to his advantage. Against RCB, batting at No. 5, Pant proved his mettle with a stunning half century. And if he opens along with Samson, the Delhi batting line-up can post quite a threat to the opposition.
To brief it up, poor team selection and poor strategical decisions are marring a team full of cup-winning potential. It is about time Dravid and his extended think-tank take a notice of this. After all, ‘daredevilry’ in decision-making is one thing, but cricketing suicide is another.