Coming into the auctions, Delhi Capitals held a significant advantage over others. They had a solid top order and enviable assortment of spinners, both of which consisted almost entirely of Indians.
More importantly, their cricketers – including captain Shreyas Iyer – are also young (eleven members of their squad were below 24 before their last match), which means they have a nucleus that would serve them well for years to come.
On the other hand, they had two clear weaknesses. Their four main batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, and Shreyas Iyer – are likely to bat in the top four, or perhaps in four of the top five positions. They were thus in need of batsmen capable of accelerating in the death overs.
Similarly, with R Ashwin, Axar Patel, and Amit Mishra in the side, they can afford to leave Sandeep Lamichhane out. Even then, they needed a world-class fast bowler to back these spinners and Kagiso Rabada. Ishant Sharma, the wonderful bowler that he is, has not proved lethal in this format.
On the flip side, given their depth of Indian cricketers, Delhi could afford to draft in top-quality overseas cricketers to fill these middle order and fast-bowling slots. Let us see how they went about that.
We have already mentioned that Delhi needed big hitters in the middle order. Shimron Hetmyer’s success in India – both last year and now – made him an obvious option. Sure enough, Delhi did not hesitate to bid frantically for him, eventually acquiring him for INR 7.75 crores – 15.5 times his base price.
Neither Marcus Stoinis nor Alex Carey has an excellent strike rate in 20-over cricket. In all probability, Delhi wanted cricketers who would fulfil a second role – Stoinis as a sixth bowler (which Delhi do not have), Carey as the reserve wicketkeeper.
Jason Roy’s selection means that he will almost certainly open the batting. This will mean that either Dhawan or Shaw will sit out or their top order will be pushed down by a slot. It was indeed an interesting selection.
Delhi also went after Pat Cummins, refusing to give up till the rate soared beyond 15 crores. Instead, they picked Chris Woakes, who, as Rabada’s main foil, is likely to be their fourth overseas cricketer in the starting XI. Woakes’ batting will also help Delhi play five bowlers (they already have Ashwin and Axar).
Delhi also got Tushar Deshpande (one of the fastest bowlers in the country). However, even if they are forced to pick an Indian seamer to fit into the team composition, it is unlikely that Deshpande will get the nod ahead of Ishant or Mohit Sharma.
Presenting, the #DelhiCapitals Class of 2020 🔥
— Delhi Capitals (@DelhiCapitals) December 19, 2019
Finally, at INR 20 lakhs, local boy Lalit Yadav has been a “steal”. A prolific boundary-hitter and economical bowler, Lalit may play a crucial role at some point – perhaps even in this edition. In the long run, he was almost certainly a better investment than Stoinis.
Delhi Capitals at the auctions: Jason Roy, Chris Woakes, Alex Carey, Shimron Hetmyer, Mohit Sharma, Tushar Deshpande, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav
Delhi Capitals likely starting XI: Jason Roy, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shreyas Iyer (c), Shimron Hetmyer, R Ashwin, Axar Patel, Chris Woakes, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada.
Until the auctions, Rajasthan’s biggest problem was different from that of any other franchise: they did not have a single big Indian name.
Their Big Four – Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer (all of them were part of England's World Cup-winning side), and Steven Smith – are all overseas cricketers. What slots did the Royals need to fill?
They needed batsmen to support Buttler, Stokes, Smith, and Sanju Samson. While Riyan Parag (who also bowls decent leg-breaks) filled one of the slots, they needed other Indians.
They needed quality fast bowlers as well. In Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, and Rahul Tewatia they had three excellent leg-spinners, but the pace department was left wanting. They filled two of their fast-bowling slots with Jaydev Unadkat and Oshane Thomas, both of whom they had released before the auctions.
They also added Andrew Tye and Tom Curran to the mix. However, this did not solve their original problem – that of having quality Indian pacers. Picking one of Curran, Tye, and Thomas would mean leaving one of their Big Four out.
Instead, they backed Akash Singh and Kartik Tyagi (of Rajasthan) and Kartik Tyagi (Uttar Pradesh), both seamers who have made it to the squad for the upcoming Under-19 World Cup. These may seem risky picks, but you can never tell with Shane Warne in the thick of things. Memories of 2008 are still fresh. While Unadkat may still be their Indian seamer of choice (ahead of Ankit Rajpoot and Varun Aaron), both teenagers may feature at some point.
On the other hand, the acquisitions of Robin Uthappa (whose long stint with Kolkata Knight Riders finally came to an end) and Yashasvi Jaiswal now complete an excellent top order.
David Miller is unlikely to feature in many games unless one of Smith, Buttler, and Stokes needs to sit out; neither is Anuj Rawat, the 20-year-old Delhi wicketkeeper, what with both Buttler and Samson (and even Uthappa) likely to feature every time.
Karnataka all-rounder Aniruddha Joshi is a curious choice. A star all-rounder in the Karnataka Premier League, Joshi earned a reputation when his 58-ball 125 not out helped Mysuru Warriors chase down 241 against Bellary Tuskers. Just like Swapnil Asnodkar and Kamran Khan from a decade ago, Joshi may turn out to be one of Warne’s “Moneyball acquisitions”.
Rajasthan Royals at the auctions: Robin Uthappa, Jaydev Unadkat, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, Kartik Tyagi, David Miller, Oshane Thomas, Aniruddha Joshi, Andrew Tye, Tom Curran
Rajasthan Royals likely starting XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson (wk), Steven Smith (c), Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat.
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