Terming Delhi Daredevils as 'underachievers' will not be an overstatement, considering their performance in the last four years. They have always promised a lot, starting every season as one of the tournament's favourites, only to disappoint themselves as well as their innumerable faithful fans at the end. After reaching the semi-finals in the first two editions, Delhi let the contests slip through their fingers when they could have done much better. And their performance has gone downhill ever since. Finishing last among 10 teams in 2011 could be the worst result the franchise would have imagined. As season five is set to get underway, they are once again billed as one of the top contenders for the title. But will they deliver even this around? Only time will tell.
Name: Delhi Daredevils
Captain: Virender Sehwag
Coach: Eric Simons
Owner: GMR Group
Cost of the team: $84 million
Key players: Delhi's captain Virender Sehwag is undoubtedly their biggest trump card. Even if half-fit, Sehwag is still capable of demolishing the best attacks in the league. His opening partnership with the dynamic David Warner will set the tone for the side. And although they have quite a big pool of foreign players in their squad, selecting four from as many as 14 players will be a task in itself. Since Sri Lanka are playing England at home, both Mahela Jayawardene and Kevin Pietersen are set to miss the first two matches of the tournament. And the chances of Ross Taylor, the injured New Zealand skipper, to get fit anytime during the competition are also very slim. In that case, Sehwag may find himself alone if things don't go in his favour in the first few games. There is little to choose between Aaron Finch (Australia) and Gulam Bodi (South Africa). Both are equally exciting batsmen and can take the game away from the opposition in no time.
The allrounders Andre Russell (West Indies) and Roelof van der Merwe (South Africa), along with Irfan Pathan, will provide a balance to the side. Keep in mind, the ball is destined to go a long way if any one of them start flogging, especially in the late overs. The experience and guile of Ajit Agarkar combined with the speed of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron will give a variety to Delhi's pace attack. Morne Morkel (South Africa) and Doug Bracewell (New Zealand) will slog it out for another seamer's spot, if needed by the team.
There will also be a two-way race for the wicketkeeper's slot. Both Naman Ojha and Puneet Bisht are quite good behind the stumps and are also very capable batsmen. But it's Ojha's six-hitting skill that may give him the nod ahead of Bisht.
Strengths: A big pool of foreign players and a good bunch of home-grown talent are the big plus for DD. They have plenty to choose from if things don't go right for them. The availability of players for specific roles makes them one of the favourites for this year's IPL. But their biggest strength is their skipper Sehwag who will once again be the key for them.
Weaknesses: Losing big contests, as they did in the first two seasons, has always been their problem. It will also be interesting to see what recipe will Eric Simons, who has recently been promoted to the head coach's job from the bowling coach, come up with as the South African ended his term with the Indian side on a disappointing note.
2011 performance: The last season was nothing short of a nightmare for the Delhi side as they were the wooden spooners. The team could only win four of their 14 matches. They flopped big time as a unit. The dreadful result also brought the much-needed changes to the overall set up of the team.
2012 prospects: As mentioned, the team management has ticked all the boxes correctly, with changing the core of the side, bringing more and better foreign players and also appointing a new coach. The only thing needed now is players should go out in the park and showcase their best skills. And if the positive intent of the team's think tank combines with the players' performance, then positive results are bound to come.