The perennial underdogs of the Indian Premier League, the Delhi Daredevils will look to beat the odds and win their maiden IPL title. The team, led again by Zaheer Khan, will begin their campaign against the Royal Challengers Bangalore away from home on Saturday and will hope to put in a similar performance as they did last year against the same team at the same venue.
After having a good auction, the team will now look to join all the dots and climb onto the podium on the 21st of May. Here’s a look at their possible playing XI:
The England right-hander, who played in the middle-order in the last season, will need to move to the top of the order since Shreyas Iyer will be out of action due to illness, for the initial matches.
For England, earlier this year, the Kent cricketer opened with Jason Roy and he will look to put that experience into use for the Daredevils.
In his overall T20 career, Billings has played 99 matches, scoring 1714 runs at a strike-rate of 123.
The Zaheer Khan-led side will hope for the right-hander to get the team off to a good start to reduce the burden on what is expected to be a fairly inexperienced middle-order.
Joining Billings at the top will be one of India's brightest talents – Rishabh Pant.
The youngster, who made his T20I debut for India against England in February, will be eager to shine in what could be an extended run for him at the top of the order.
Pant showed what he could do if given a chance at the top when he made a 40-ball 69 against the Gujarat Lions in Rajkot last year and he will hope to make a similar kind of impact against all the teams in this year's edition.
The Karnataka right-hander, who put forth a few impressive performances in last year's edition, will be key to his side's chances of posting a big total.
In the absence of both Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy, Nair will carry the extra responsibility of ensuring that the Daredevils post a competitive total on the board for the bowlers to feel safe.
Nair played one of the best innings of his IPL career last year against the Sunrisers Hyderabad and he will hope to produce similar performances against each of the teams this year as well.
The prodigy who seems to have fallen out of line a bit. During his time with the Rajasthan Royals, Samson impressed everyone with his batting and it was expected that a shift to the Delhi Daredevils, under Rahul Dravid and co. would only further enhance his reputation.
But during the 2016 season, Samson featured in 14 matches, amassing 291 runs at a strike-rate of 112.
It wasn't the kind of numbers one expected from a player like Samson, touted to be one of the next big names in the Indian middle-order.
With no services of JP Duminy to avail, Samson will be a key man for the Zaheer Khan-led side in the middle-order and he will hope to raise his game and deliver for the side.
One of the overseas buys for the Daredevils in the auction this season, Anderson was released by the Mumbai Indians last year and he will hope that, like he did over there, he can create a similar impact here.
Anderson has not bowled in a while and so he will strictly play as a batsman and the Daredevils will be happy since batting is where they are a bit thin at the moment.
In an overall career spanning two years, Anderson made 379 runs in 16 matches, with his best performance coming in the game against the Rajasthan Royals in the 2014 season, when he smashed an unbeaten 95 to help Mumbai pull off a sensational win.
The Daredevils will hope for him to produce such performances on a regular basis this year.
Lower middle order
One of the best players for the franchise last season, Morris proved to be a key component of the side both with bat and ball and was one of the first picks in the playing XI for the Daredevils.
The South African player produced one of the best performances with the bat last year albeit in a losing cause, when he smashed 82 runs to help his side get close in a game against the Gujarat Lions, from a difficult position.
Morris also provides a useful bowling threat and was effective for the side at the death last year. Zaheer and co. will look for him to produce similar performances this year as well.
The Australian, who has prior IPL experience playing for the KKR, will be seen in Daredevils colours this year.
The Australia made a fine international comeback during his side's tour of India when he replaced Mitchell Starc in the squad and he could put that recent experience of playing in Indian conditions to good use during his stint with the Daredevils.
He didn't have the greatest of times with the ball in the just concluded BBL but proved to be effective with the bat with 134 runs in six matches.
Unless there is a collapse, Cummins is likely to get very few balls to make an impact with the bat, but if given sufficient time, he could turn out to be a surprise with the willow in hand.
Nadeem will be heading into the IPL on the back of a fine domestic season, where he led Jharkhand all the way to the semi-final stage of the competition.
On his way to that, Nadeem bowled superbly to claim 56 wickets in 10 matches to lead the charts as far as the wicket-takers were concerned.
This isn't the first season that Nadeem will be playing for the Daredevils, but it could well be the most important season for him if he is to continue to harbour hopes of playing for India.
He has also proven to be useful with the bat and it would help the side if he can contribute with the bat lower down the order as well.
The leg-spinner, who will probably slot into most IPL All-Time XIs, will once again be a vital cog for the side.
The only bowler in IPL history to claim three hat-tricks for three different teams, Mishra's great strength will be his ability to pick up wickets at different stages of the innings and Zaheer Khan will hope for him to deliver yet again this season.
The competition will be important for Mishra as it will be the last chance for him to grab a berth in the Champions Trophy squad and a good performance could seal his spot for the event.
Zaheer Khan (C)
He is back is Zaheer Khan. When he removed AB de Villiers in Raipur last year, it was thought that his IPL career was over.
But not quite. He is back for yet another season, leading the Daredevils for a second straight year, hoping to take them past the finish line. I think for a player like Zaheer, numbers at this stage don't matter. It is about how he leads the side, how he guides the younger lot who are always eager to learn.
That is where his real expertise would come in and hopefully, he can do that and also chip in personally as well to help the Daredevils go all the way.
The player almost every Indian fan will keep his eyes on. Like Zaheer, with Shami, numbers are a bit secondary. The primary question with him is fitness and whether he can play as regularly as captains want him to play.
Shami played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final for Bengal and looked okay, but can he, in an event as long as the IPL, maintain his fitness for a large part, if not the entire tournament?
His fitness and his bowling will be monitored closely and if he does pass the test, then he can consider himself to be on the flight to England for the Champions Trophy in June.