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Delhi's young guns give hope for the future

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Shreyas_Iyer_Rishabh_Pant_IPL_Delhi_Daredevils_India_CricketThe Delhi Daredevils. A team that has been known for two things, poor performances and not maintaining the core of the team, decided to make the most of the retention policy as they retained Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer and Chris Morris. While the intention was to keep their last season’s best performers, there was also a conscious effort to go young and build for the longer term, giving the youngsters a chance to express themselves.

This was quite evident at the auctions as the Daredevils management bid hard to get the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Avesh Khan, Abhishek Sharma, Manjot Kalra and Sandeep Lamichhane, among others. But the idea was to have some experienced figures in the team who helped these young guns flourish. In came Gautam Gambhir, Maxwell, Munro, Roy, Mishra and more.

The Daredevils started the IPL season on a poor note as Gambhir gave the only performance of note as KL Rahul took the match away from them. The Daredevils’ poor luck continued as they were going along well against the Rajasthan Royals, only to see rain disrupt play. Faced with a mammoth total to chase, the batsmen never got going in the damp conditions and Delhi lost their 2nd game on the trot.

Things looked up in the following game which took a brilliant individual performance from Jason Roy and a cameo from Pant which saw Daredevils topple the other out-of-form side, Mumbai Indians.

Gambhir was in poor touch which continued when he made a return to Kolkata to face his former side. Roy too couldn’t deliver and it was only Pant and Maxwell who played innings of substance, but they alone couldn’t prevent a huge loss for the Daredevils.

The poor run didn’t stop and Delhi had to ring in some changes. Another loss at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore forced Delhi to shake things up. In came Prithvi Shaw and young Avesh Khan. Avesh bowled brilliantly and picked up 2 wickets, restricting Kings XI Punjab to a meager 143. Shaw played aggressively and got Delhi off the hook with a 10 ball 22, but it still wasn’t enough and the hosts lost by 4 runs. Despite the loss, there were a number of positives to be taken from the game.

The repeated losses were hurting and there was need of drastic action. I’m not sure if it was the need of the hour, but Gambhir stepped down as captain and handed over the baton to young Shreyas Iyer.

Iyer did justice as Delhi produced a strong performance against the Knight Riders, led by a swashbuckling 92 from Iyer, a smashing 62 from Shaw, followed up by a 2/29 from Avesh. The signs pointed to these young guns auguring well for the side’s future.

Something unseen before was on display now. Delhi produced strong performance on the back of strong performance. Though they fell short at times, their play was positive. Pant got into his own and Avesh was top notch with the ball. Delhi’s faith in their youngsters was paying off and at least that provided some solace to the side.

Shaw, Pant and Iyer smashed Delhi to a huge total in the next game and saw them through. The good run continued as Shaw, Pant and Iyer kept impressing. Delhi also rung in a few other changes, and gave chances to Harshal Patel who did not disappoint. Abhishek Sharma was handed his IPL debut against the Royal Challengers and the youngster responded with a 19 ball 46. Lamichhane was another debutant in the game and the leggie impressed one and all with a brilliant spell of 1/25 from his 4 overs.

Pant was brilliant yet again while Shaw and Iyer gave a good start as Delhi got the better of Chennai Super Kings. Lamichhane was again brilliant with the ball and proved his worth.

The Daredevils managed just 5 wins in the season, but what will make them feel elated is the performances from the youngsters in whom they had faith. Iyer has taken upon the role of captaincy really well, accumulating 411 runs. Shaw managed 245 from 9 games. But the pick of the lot has been Pant, who scored 684 from his 14 games at a strike rate of over 170. Avesh Khan and Lamichhane have been really good with the ball, setting a great foundation for the side.

With the likes of Sharma and even Manjot Kalra in the ranks, Delhi has probably the best set of youngsters who can set the IPL stage on fire and do achieve something wonderful with the Daredevils in the next few years.

 

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