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Are Delhi Daredevils doomed from the start?

Oh Delhi Daredevils! There were fears that the revamped franchise weren’t good enough for the 2016 season of the Indian Premier League. And their first match of the season against Kolkata Knight Riders amplified those fears.

Delhi Daredevils were thrashed by nine wickets by the two-time champions in the second match of the tournament. While the defeat was thoroughly expected, the manner of it suggested a very gloomy season ahead for the Delhi Daredevils.

The first, and most obvious, red herring for Delhi Daredevils was their choice of captain. Zaheer Khan, though a certified legend of Indian cricket, does not inspire any confidence as a leader. In fact, his post-match comments about the defeat being Delhi’s ‘one bad day’ comes across as rather delusional as he doesn’t seem to recognise the innate problems with the unit.

During the preceding IPL auction, Delhi Daredevils spent obscene amounts of money of young players. While giving youth a chance is a noble philosophy, it rarely bears fruit in such an immense and tightly-structured tournament. The most prominent example of this erroneous buying spree is Pawan Negi, who was purchased for INR 8.5 crore. Negi struggled to 11 of 19 balls against Kolkata and his lack of recent playing time, despite being in the Indian national squad, suggests that performances are not going to improve.

Zaheer and Negi are not solely to blame though. Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson may be highly rated but have had more misses than hits with their recent IPL performances. Delhi’s bench strength is almost non-existent and they seem to solely rely on Quinton De Kock, Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Morris. The West Indian is yet unproven while Morris is still finding his feet, leaving fellow South African De Kock as the only true match-winner for the Daredevils. He cannot, always do it all on his own.

The aforementioned match was played at the Eden Gardens, but most of the capacity crowd exited mid-way during the second innings. It had nothing to do with Kolkata’s batting but more to do with apathy towards Delhi’s performance and their apparent lack of fight or bite. This apathy is likely to spread and be felt throughout the IPL season.

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