Delhi Daredevils 2014: Squad, Auction Deals, Captain, Probable Team
After finishing bottom of the league last year, with a new coach and radically overhauled team Delhi Daredevils are embarking on a new era as the 2014 campaign gets under way.
South African Gary Kirsten, widely regarded as one of the finest, if not the finest coach in the world, assumed the role of head coach last year and will be working alongside newly freelanced star Kevin Pietersen who was named as the Daredevils' captain last month.
As part of Bleacher Report's extensive coverage of this season's Indian Premier League, this slideshow will preview the Delhi Daredevils prospects this year.
Batsmen: Mayank Agarwal, Dinesh Karthik, Milind Kumar, Kedhar Jadhav, Manoj Tiwary, Saurabh Tiwary, Murali Vijay
All-Rounders: Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Jayant Yadav
Bowlers: Siddharth Kaul, Shabhaz Nadeem, Mohammed Shami, Rahul Sharma, HS Sharaf, Rahul Shukla, Jaidev Unadkat
Batsmen: JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Kevin Pietersen, Ross Taylor
All-Rounders: Jimmy Neesham
Bowlers: Nathan Coulter-Nile, Wayne Parnell
The Daredevils adopted the most interesting strategy of the eight franchises at auction, opting against retaining any of their squad; a move no other side replicated.
They used one of their three right-to-match cards on bringing Kevin Pietersen back to the franchise.
Their most expensive purchase was Indian wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik who cost Kirsten's franchise 12.5 crore.
They sealed a potential bargain when they obtained Ross Taylor's signature for just 2 crore.
Rating Their Business
Delhi's strategy of retaining no players carried enormous risk in that, unlike any of the other seven franchises, they removed any semblance of a team core.
However, they emerged from the auction with a strong-looking side, bearing enormous potential.
The Indian-international balance of 23-7 is a healthy, albeit slightly risky one. Only four international players are permitted to play in any one match, but even still, seven is on the lower side when you bring injuries and poor form into consideration.
It is a balance that lends encouragement to local Indians, however, with less competition for places offered by the international stars.
Kevin Pietersen was, of course, the headline acquisition at the auction, and considering his recent schism with the ECB and his new-found status as a freelancing T20 player, he will no doubt be incentivised to perform well. He already appears to be taking the season seriously, having been training hard with his mentor Graeme Ford in London.
The batting is certainly Delhi's strong point with Pietersen set to play alongside Dinesh Karthik, Ross Taylor, JP Duminy and Murali Vijay. The depth, too, with Saurabh and Manoj Tiwary, as well as Kedhar Jadav and Quinton de Kock, is impressive.
It is the bowling that is certainly more of a concern, particularly the spin department.
Ravi Rampaul and Nathan Coulter-Nile are two excellent international white ball bowlers, but the Indians—Mohammad Shami aside—are less impressive. Shami, too, has struggled perennially bowling at the death for India.
Rahul Sharma is a promising leg-spinner, while Shabhaz Nadeem is a good prospect. But both are relatively inexperienced leading an attack or playing under pressure. They may rue the lack of an international quality spin bowler.
Captain and Coach
Forgoing the makeup of the team and any potential concerns surrounding it; it is the combination of Gary Kirsten and Kevin Pietersen working as coach and captain that has excited onlookers.
Kirsten has had proven success at international level with India and South Africa, while there are those who see Pietersen to be one of the great untapped minds of captaincy.
Kirsten commands the respect of Pietersen, and the duo combine ruthless efficiency and vibrant dynamism —they could be a partnership integral to success. Shane Warne's 2008 Rajasthan Royals demonstrated the effect a great leader can have on a side.
1 M Vijay, 2 Quinton de Kock, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Ross Taylor, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Mohammad Shami, 11 Rahul Shukla.
Predicting how the Daredevils will do is harder than for other franchises. There is a whole new management setup and team, and gauging their success is thus more difficult.
Much will depend on the two Indian spinners who will have to bowl well on classical sub-continental pitches. The batting should not be a problem, but as is the case with much franchise cricket, the team needs to bond and work together as a unit.
Fans will hope that Pietersen and Kirsten can provide the leadership to engender that.
JP Duminy's form in the World T20 is suggestive of a man on the cusp of something special; he is one player who could support Pietersen in leading the batting for the Daredevils.