David Warner
David Warner of the Delhi Capitals in action against the Lucknow Super Giants in the Tata Indian Premier League in Lucknow on April 1, 2023. Warner has had little support from the top-order batsmen as Delhi slumped to two defeats. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

A strong Australian flavour runs through the Delhi Capitals. Captain David Warner, head coach Ricky Ponting, batter Mitchell Marsh and some of the support staff are from Australia. But the team hasn’t shown the fighting qualities of the Green Caps.

Warner is one of the leading scorers after the first seven matches of Season 16. But Ponting won’t be too happy with how the games have progressed. Two losses in two matches rankle, although it’s too early to be too worried.

Delhi fought well in the second match on Tuesday until the Gujarat Titans eked out a win, with Sai Sudarshan and David Miller showing the way in the chase. The credit for the fightback should go to their bowlers, especially pace ace Andrej Nortje, who put the brakes on the Gujarat scoring with early wickets. In the end, the Delhi total turned out to be inadequate.

Batting wasn’t easy in Kotla because the pitch had enough juice to keep the pacemen enthused. It was so helpful that Mohammad Shami struggled to control the swing before he dismissed Prithvi Shaw and Mitchell Marsh to peg back Delhi.

Delhi struggled after Warner’s troubled stay was ended by Alzarri Joseph, who also dismissed Rilee Rossouw with a snorter. Debutant Abishek Porel and Axar Patel lend some respectability to the total, which was sub-par.

Why the home loss hurts Delhi

So the problem lies in the Delhi batting. It is devoid of punch and power to strike fear into rival bowlers. Even against the Lucknow Super Giants, Delhi batters failed to make a match of it, although they faced a stiff target. Only Warner showed some stomach for a fight, and Rossouw too stuck around for a while.

Delhi will only make the playoffs if they show some steel in their batting. When teams play half their matches away from home, a loss like the one in Delhi’s home ground of Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday would hurt even more.

It’s easy to point to the injured Rishabh Pant’s absence as a critical factor. But remember that the wicketkeeper didn’t make many runs in the last two seasons, although his captaincy was promising. His form in white-ball cricket for India too was disappointing. Since Pant won’t be playing this season, let’s look at other factors holding back the Delhi batting.

The powerplays were abysmal, with Prithvi Shaw unable to impose himself. He hardly looked a picture of confidence, and rival pacers switch to the short-ball mode, given his discomfiture against the rising deliveries.

Shaw’s early exits were exacerbated by Marsh’s poor outings. That straightaway put the pressure on the middle order, which was forced to repair the damage, preventing them from pushing up the scoring later.

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How can Delhi remedy the situation? They need to have partnerships early in the innings. Most matches are decided in the powerplay, so at least two of the top four batsmen must score to pave the way for a good score. That is what Delhi will aim for since they have a decent bowling attack. The arrival of Nortje and Lungi Ngidi has improved their fast bowling stock, and Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel have taken care of the middle over spin squeeze.

Delhi can overcome their dismal start to line up a semifinal spot if they run up a string of victories. That will depend on their batting. Warner is in good touch, but Shaw and Marsh should do better to lift Delhi. That would be the best gift for Pant.