The Delhi Capitals will want to forget IPL 2023 in a hurry. Five wins in 13 games is a poor reflection of the team who made the playoffs two seasons ago. But Wednesday’s win over the Punjab Kings provided glimpses of their true potential. The effervescent display came rather late as they have only game left in the tournament.
Captain David Warner blamed the poor season on the “inconsistent” pitches at Delhi’s Arun Jaitely Stadium. “…at your home venue, you want a bit of consistency, and that’s been the difficult thing. We haven’t been able to work out what the best total is there,” Warner said at the post-match press conference.
His teammate Rilee Rossouw, who struck his maiden IPL fifty, echoed his captain’s words while praising the batting wicket at Dharamsala. Even the South African batter’s heroics came towards the end of the season.
How Delhi failed to capitalise on home advantage
Delhi have won only two of the six games at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, which means they failed to make capital out of the home advantage. The failures may not be entirely due to the slow pitches in their backyard; it also points to the meagre resources and the pathetic form of their players.
That’s clear in their away record, which has also been miserable. Three wins out of seven away games bolster my argument that Delhi didn’t have the squad to make an impact in Season 16.
A week into the tournament, I was so convinced by their lack of quality that I wrote an article on why Delhi would struggle to make the playoffs. They proved me right, slumping to five losses before posting their first win.
Batting was their Achilles heel. Barring Warner, who battled for fluency, and Axar Patel, the rest of the batters disappointed. Mitchell Marsh, a standout performer for Australia, was a major flop. Prithvi Shaw was a pale shadow of the barnstorming batter he is.
The bowlers too suffered. The sustained efforts of South African speedster Anrich Nortje stood in stark contrast to the rest. Even left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed or left-arm leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav failed to make inroads in the absence of steady support. Only the return of veteran Ishant Sharma brought some cutting edge to the Delhi attack.
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Delhi hit all the right buttons in the Dharamsala game. A superb powerplay, where openers Warner and Shaw raked in runs, set the stage for Rossouw to hammer the Punjab bowlers around. Delhi’s first score of over 200 this season was the result.
That gave enough cushion for the bowlers to work. Even Liam Livingstone’s whirlwind knock of (94 off 48 balls) failed to railroad them. The win may not prevent Delhi from ending with the wooden spoon; at the time of writing, the Sunrisers Hyderabad have two matches in hand, which gives them a chance to rise above Delhi.
Delhi could take the lessons from Wednesday’s game and work on their squad before next year’s IPL. This season is best forgotten.