Shreyas Iyer of Delhi Capitals plays a shot.
Shreyas Iyer of the Delhi Capitals drives against the Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2020 game in Dubai on October 31, 2020. But skipper couldn't prevent Delhi's batting collapse. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Four straight losses. They couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Delhi Capitals. The nine-wicket defeat to the Mumbai Indians on Saturday would hurt even more since they are struggling to retain a top-four spot on the IPL 2020 points table. A win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday would cement their place, but a loss would leave at the mercy of net run rate. And that’s tricky territory.

If they had beaten Mumbai, it would not have come to such a pass. The possibility of a Delhi win evaporated very early in the game in Dubai, and the capitulation was a horrific sight. Too many flaws: that was how captain Shreyas Iyer put it at the post-match interview. Problem is the flaws reared up at a very critical time in the tournament.

These problems had existed right from the beginning, but some individual brilliance masked them. Marcus Stoinis was the early saviour, later Iyer himself staged some rescue acts before Shikhar Dhawan reeled off record back-to-back centuries. There weren’t too many partnerships of note, and that hurt Delhi in crunch games.

The problem became evident when the bowling started misfiring. Delhi have an excellent attack with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Ravichandran Ashwin, although they lost leg-spinner Amit Mishra to injury. When there are not enough runs on the board, it’s difficult for the bowlers to defend. And it becomes worse when a star bowler has a bad day.

Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan with all the prizes he won for the matchwinning knock in the IPL 2020 game against the Delhi Capitals in Dubai on October 31, 2020. Image Credit: @mipaltan

The origins of the four losses in a row can be traced to the fragility in the batting. Prithvi Shaw’s continuing poor form and Dhawan’s recent failures put pressure on a middle order that doesn’t seem to be able to handle it. Stoinis’ runs have dried up, while Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer repeatedly fall in a bid to push the scoring rate.

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The pattern was evident in the game against Mumbai too. Trent Boult (3-21) packed off Dhawan and Shaw in the first three overs, and the middle order struggled for stability. A double strike in an over from Jasprit Bumrah (3-17) took the fight out of Delhi. A target of 111 is fodder for Mumbai, and Ishan Kishan (72 not out) led the way with some imperious shots.

The Delhi batting needs some quick fixes, or else they are at risk of being ousted from the tournament. They can learn from the Kings XI Punjab and the Rajasthan Royals who have turned around their fortunes with small adjustments and addition of a player or two. Right now, time is of the essence.