Will a returning Rishabh Pant be enough? What DC need to do at IPL 2024 auction | Cricket

By admin Dec15,2023

Even before paddles are raised and crores are spent at the IPL mini-auction in Dubai for the 2024 edition, Delhi Capitals have been spurred by the news that Rishabh Pant will return as captain. Having missed the 16th season due to a car accident in December 2022, Pant’s availability solves one of their major problems when they finished second from bottom this year — the absence of a match-winner in the middle order.

The return of Rishabh Pant also solves the wicketkeeping problem even though indications are that the 26-year-old may not don the gloves in all the matches.(BCCI)

The return of Pant also solves the wicketkeeping problem even though indications are that the 26-year-old may not don the gloves in all the matches. Neither Sarfaraz Khan nor Abhishek Porel was able to grasp his opportunity last season, forcing Delhi to use up an overseas slot by bringing in England’s Phil Salt behind the stumps.

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Even so, it is in the batting department that Delhi will have to make significant additions on December 19. While David Warner was reliable as ever last season with 516 runs in 14 matches, the others in the top six were far too inconsistent for Delhi to make a serious push at making the playoffs. The Indian batters were particularly disappointing, aptly illustrated by Axar Patel — a No. 7 batter who is in the side for his left-arm spin — ending as the highest Indian run-getter with 283 runs at a strike rate of 139.4. That tells you sufficiently about the underwhelming returns of Manish Pandey, Sarfaraz Khan and Prithvi Shaw, a trio which didn’t manage to translate its perceived pedigree on paper into performances on the field.

Not unexpectedly, Pandey and Sarfaraz are two of 11 players that Delhi have released. Shaw has been retained even though his eight matches yielded 106 runs at an average of 13.25. Even in the games that he did play, he was largely used as an Impact Player with his lack of agility on the field considered to be a liability.

If Delhi are still sticking with him for another season, it must be with the hope that his inherent stroke-making ability reaps rewards. He’s yet to play domestic cricket for Mumbai this season after suffering a knee injury during his County stint with Northamptonshire in England.

If the 24-year-old can put his travails behind him and justify the faith of the franchise, there’s a powerful opening combination with Warner to look forward to. But given the unpredictability that cripples his game, Delhi may be on the lookout for another opening batter. With a salary cap of 28.95 crore available and four overseas slots to fill, they have the resources to go after either Travis Head, Harry Brook or Rachin Ravindra. While Head and Ravindra are likely to attract intense bidding wars after excellent World Cup campaigns, Brook — with a base price of 2 crore — may come slightly cheaper. The English batter didn’t make waves in his maiden season with Sunrisers Hyderabad — 190 runs in 11 matches at an average of 21.11 and a middling World Cup suggest he’s yet to come to terms with Indian pitches — but he may just relish the flat tracks that the Ferozeshah Kotla has been dishing up recently.

There aren’t many exciting options among the Indian batters. Like a few other franchises, Delhi may be interested in Tamil Nadu’s M Shahrukh Khan, who’s starting at a base price of 40 lakh after being released by Punjab Kings. In his three seasons with Punjab, the 28-year-old never got an opportunity to bat long enough to make a lasting impression.

The bowling department has most bases covered. Among the spinners, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav will be expected to shoulder the responsibility, with Pravin Dubey and Vicky Ostwal providing back-up. In the pace attack, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Ishant Sharma, Mukesh Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed are the primary candidates to play regularly. With Nortje proving inconsistent last season and currently nursing injury, Delhi may want to consider investing in a star overseas pacer. They have plenty of options in the auction pool as Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Gerald Coetzee look for bidders.

Delhi will have to be mindful though of using their salary cap judiciously given they have nine slots to fill. Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad have a bigger purse and lesser slots to cover, which means Delhi may be handicapped if they get into a bidding war with any of these franchises for one of their favoured picks.

That Delhi are yet to win the IPL indicates they have never quite got their auction strategy spot on. They will hope that can change this time.

By admin

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