IPL 2014: Where Did It All Go Wrong for Delhi Daredevils?
Injuries, misfiring stars and an anaemic bowling attack all played their part in what turned into a disastrous IPL 2014 for the Delhi Daredevils.
With the hugely successful Gary Kirsten in the coaching hot seat and Kevin Pietersen installed as captain, the early signs looked good for a Delhi renaissance.
After two wins early in the competition, the Daredevils reverted to type, though, and closed their campaign with nine successive losses to once again prop up the IPL table.
So where did it all go wrong for the Delhi Daredevils?
1. Insipid Bowling
Delhi's pop gun attack took just 51 wickets in their 14 matches, the lowest of any side in this season's competition. That goes a long way to explaining another last place finish.
No Daredevils bowler made it into double figures in the wickets column for the tournament. Nobody managed to bag a four-wicket haul in a match, either.
Imran Tahir, with nine wickets from six matches in the latter stages of the competition, was the pick of the bunch but by that stage it was too little too late.
The pace attack lacked penetration and the spinners control. The fact that part-timer JP Duminy was Delhi's most economical slow bowler speaks volumes.
2. Misfiring Top Order
The Delhi management spent big bucks completely revamping the batting line-up that misfired so badly in 2013, investing heavily in Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik.
After a slow start, Pietersen showed signs of hitting form in the latter stages of the competition, but a single half-century from 11 innings is a disappointing return.
Karthik, too, enjoyed an underwhelming IPL, scoring just 325 runs at an average of 23.21.
Throw in Murali Vijay's woes at the top of the order, the strange case of the missing Ross Taylor (only four matches for the New Zealander) and an inability to turn starts into big totals and the Delhi top order had major problems.
3. Failure to Convert Starts
Delhi batsmen passed fifty on eight occasions during the 2014 IPL. Not one of them went on to reach 70, let alone 100.
If bowlers aren't taking wickets consistently, the batsmen need to pick up the slack and build big totals. Getting dismissed after solid starts is a sure way for that not to happen.
Losing captain Kevin Pietersen for the opening three matches through injury didn't help the Delhi cause. Neither did the untimely withdrawal of fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile so early in the competition.
The Aussie quickie was the pick of the attack in the surprise opening match win over Kolkata and was sorely missed after picking up a hamstring injury against Chennai in game two.
The 26-year-old's absence piled the pressure on Wayne Parnell and Mohammed Shami, who couldn't provide the Daredevils with a much needed wicket-taking threat.
5. Senior Management
After Andy Flower's resignation as England coach there was much clamour among the Twitterverse for Gary Kirsten to take over.
The form of the Daredevils shows that it takes more than the appointment of a successful coach to make a winning team.
Coach Kirsten and skipper Kevin Pietersen have failed to transform the fortunes of the ailing franchise and there have been some strange decisions along the way.
A case in point being JP Duminy. The South African top scored with 410 runs at an average of 51.25 but languished down the order at No. 6 for much of the competition. How many more runs would he have scored if promoted?
Of course it's hard to manage a side when bowlers aren't taking wickets and batsmen are failing to make big scores. The Daredevils have looked less than the sum of their individual parts, though, and the management must take their share of the blame for that.
KP admitted as much, tweeting,
I'm sorry to all our wonderful fans! What we did this IPL wasn't good enough! I will accept a lot of the blame as capt - only fair! Sorry!— Kevin Pietersen (@KP24) May 25, 2014