New Delhi: From first swapping the attacking New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor with medium pacer Ashish Nehra, and then losing Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder through injuries, it has been far from an auspicious beginning for Delhi Daredevils at the sixth edition of the IPL.
It is still unclear why the team management decided to go for Pune Warriors' Nehra in place of Taylor as their pace line-up was already sharp, with the likes of South African Morne Morkel and Indian seamers Ajit Agarkar, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron in their side. Not to forget Irfan Pathan who too can bowl medium pace along with hitting a few lusty blows lower down the order. Taylor could have been crucial in the middle order, especially now when Pietersen and Ryder both are unavailable.
Pietersen played a vital role in Daredevils' campaign last year when they topped the points table at the end of the league phase. The English batsman made 305 runs, including a century against Deccan Chargers, which were the third-best figures for the side behind former captain Virender Sehwag and the now captain-in-charge Mahela Jayawardene.
Virender Sehwag is Delhi's biggest hope.
Ryder could have given the team an option at the top order with Australian David Warner. But his unavailability means Delhi will be without three of their key players now. The team's new foreign recruits Jeevan Mendis and Johan Botha - who were bought in February's player auction along with Ryder - will don the roles of spin allrounders for the side.
How Sehwag responds to his axing from the Indian Test side will be a thing to see. All eyes will also be on Delhi's youngster Unmukt Chand, who has shown in recent times that he is ready for the big leap. Considering the situation they are in right now, the path ahead looks difficult for Daredevils. But, as we have often seen in the IPL, any team can surprise the other on a given day. And we shouldn't be surprised if Delhi do the same in this edition.
Key players: Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Morne Morkel, David Warner
Players retained: Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Roelof van der Merwe, Unmukt Chand, Varun Aaron, Pawan Negi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Yogesh Nagar, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan, Manpreet Juneja, Andre Russell, Ajit Agarkar, David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Morne Morkel, Naman Ojha
Players dropped Puneet Bisht, Gulam Bodi, Aavishkar Salvi, Sunny Gupta, Venugopal Rao, Robin Bist, Aaron Finch, Kuldeep Raval, Aavishkar Salvi, Doug Bracewell, Glenn Maxwell, Prashant Naik, Zafir Patel, Vikas Mishra, Tejashwi Yadav
Players bought: Johan Botha ($450,000), Jesse Ryder ($260,000), Jeevan Mendis ($50,000)
Foreign players: Mahela Jayawardene, David Warner, Andre Russell, Roelof van der Merwe, Johan Botha, Jeevan Mendis, Morkel Morkel
Domestic players: Virender Sehwag, Unmukt Chand, Kedar Jadhav, Venugopal Rao, Manpreet Juneja, Yogesh Nagar, Irfan Pathan, Sujit Nayak, Naman Ojha, CM Gautam, Pawan Negi, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sidharth Kaul