The presence of Shaw, Pant and Ashwin gives Shreyas’ side a cutting edge; Aussie thinks the team can go all the way
A team with a rich Indian flavour, Delhi Capitals could well be the dark horse. Last year, it made the playoffs after seven years, thanks to Ricky Ponting’s astute guidance.
This year too, the team looks good on paper to surprise the traditional front-runners in the league phase.
The only team not to reach an IPL final, Capitals has gone for home-grown talent in top-order batsmen like Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane, and spin-bowling all-rounders such as R. Ashwin, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra.
In fact, Mishra is not only the second highest wicket¼¼-taker in IPL (157 wkts) but also has a double-century in First Class cricket.
Wicket-keeper Alex Carey and Shimron Hetmyer, along with Marcus Stoinis, provide options for the role of a finisher.
Rabada the spearhead
Capitals’ pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada, new-addition Anrich Nortje, and the fit-again Ishant Sharma can prove a handful.
Harshal Patel, who had a fruitful Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last winter, Mohit Sharma and young Avesh Khan lend depth to the squad. Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane is seen as an able substitute when the first-choice spinners need a breather.
Another important factor in the Capitals camp is the presence of Ponting.
This passionate and supremely fit Aussie brings plenty to the table and is known for his quality suggestions. A tough taskmaster, Ponting believes the side has the potential to go all the way.
Skipper Shreyas, whenever in need of inputs, can call upon seniors like Ashwin, Rahane, Dhawan, Ishant, Mishra and Ponting.
It will be interesting to see how the captain marshals his abundant resources.
More often than not, Capitals has struggled in the competition. It is the only team to bring up the rear of the league table on four occasions.
At the same time, it has twice topped the points table. Indeed, this Ponting-inspired bunch has the potential to come good and repeat its playoff-reaching performance of 2019.