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IPL 2021: Delhi Capitals Preview - With Pant At Helm, Capitals Search For Elusive Title

Delhi Capitals had their best IPL showing last year when they made it to the final of the coveted league. With the dynamic Rishabh Pant at the helm of affairs, the franchise would hope to go a step further this time around.

IPL 2021: Delhi Capitals Preview - With Pant At Helm, Capitals Search For Elusive Title

It was a story of so close and yet so far for the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2020 in the UAE. After a brilliant campaign in the group stages they finally made it to their first final in 13 editions but were beaten by Mumbai Indians at the last hurdle. The Capitals have a new captain at the helm – the swashbuckling Rishabh Pant and that will bring in new energy, zest and enthusiasm in their campaign. They have a very strong batting and bowling unit and are one of the most formidable and balanced teams going into the 14th edition of the tournament.

After six years of a poor show in the IPL, the Capitals made it to the playoffs in 2019. They went a step further and were the losing finalists in 2020. Will they take that giant leap this time around?

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Form Guide – 2020

The transformation of Shikhar Dhawan – from accumulator to aggressor was the biggest story for the Capitals in 2020. From a mere 132 runs at a rate of 122.22 in the first six matches, Dhawan hammered 486 runs in his last 11 matches at a strike rate of 152.35 to finish as the second-highest run-getter in the tournament.

Shreyas Iyer also scored heavily and amassed in excess of 500 runs but fell short on strike rate – he scored at 123.27 per 100 hundred deliveries. Marcus Stoinis was one of the few Australian batsmen who stood out in IPL 2020. He produced a few cameos and scored at a rate of 148.52.

Interestingly, Rishabh Pant was not at his destructive best the previous season. Although he aggregated 343 runs in the competition he scored at a rate of barely 114 – very poor for a batsman of his calibre given the role he plays in the XI. The dramatic decline in form of Prithvi Shaw was the other big story for the Capitals in 2020. He registered scores of 4, 0, 0, 7, 10, 9 and 0 in his last 7 matches in the tournament.

Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were in tremendous form with the ball for the Capitals in 2020. Rabada finished as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 30 wickets in 17 matches at a strike rate of 13.1 while his fellow South African team-mate returned with 22 wickets at a strike rate of 16.6.

The spinners controlled the game in the middle overs with restrictive and disciplined bowling. R Ashwin, Axar Patel and Amit Mishra also got variety into the attack.

IPL Auction 2021 Recap

Here’s a look at who they picked this year:

Total: 8 | Tom Curran, Steven Smith, Sam Billings, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Hussain Meriwala, M Siddharth

Budget spent: 11.25 cr

The biggest and the smartest buy for the Capitals was the great Australian Steven Smith who they purchased for a sum of just INR 2.2 crore. The Capitals did not go for any marquee buys or high-end purchases like some of the other franchises but instead focused on getting in utility players. Tom Curran was their most expensive import at INR 5.25 crores. Sam Billings was another excellent option for the Capitals and will bolster their already formidable middle order. Umesh Yadav will add firepower to the pace unit.

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Team combination:

Prithvi Shaw should return to the top of the order after a record-breaking Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2021. He will form a devastating opening pair with the in-form Shikhar Dhawan. Steven Smith will bat at number three and may play the role of the playmaker in the XI. The flamboyant captain will come in at 4 with Shimron Hetmyer or Marcus Stoinis adding firepower to the lower order.

The bowling will be led by Kagiso Rabada. Anrich Nortje and Ishant Sharma make for a fearsome pace attack. R Ashwin and Axar Patel will be the two spinners in the XI.

First match: vs Chennai Super Kings, April 10, Mumbai.

Probable XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant (captain and wk), Marcus Stoinis, Tom Curran, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Umesh Yadav

Full squad: Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Chris Woakes, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Lalit Yadav, Lukman Meriwala, Manimaran Siddharth, Marcus Stoinis, Praveen Dubey, Prithvi Shaw, R Ashwin, Ripal Patel, Rishabh Pant, Sam Billings, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Steven Smith, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Vishnu Vinod