IPL 2021: Delhi Capitals struggles for right playing 11, As uncertainity looms over Rabada, Axar patel

Ricky Ponting and the Delhi Capitals find themselves in a difficult situation, five days ahead of their campaign opener against Chennai Super Kings (CSK).

Delhi will be missing its three cornerstones for various reasons. While Axar Patel will miss at least two games after he was tested positive for Covid-19, DC’s pace duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje will be on their fifth day of quarantine. Replacing Patel will not be a big problem but finding the right replacement for their pace battery will be a conundrum they need to solve.

It is a no-brainer to predict DC’s opening pair for the season. If all stays well, Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw will be Delhi’s pick for CSK vs DC.

The duo had a great start to their IPL 2020 season. But as the season progressed, while Dhawan cruised ahead with a strong batting display, Shaw started struggling with the bat. He was eventually dropped. However, the young Mumbai batsman returned to form in style at the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He amassed 827 runs in eight games.

This will be a big headache for the DC think tank. With Shreyas Iyer ruled out due to shoulder injury, Delhi’s No.4 spot is up for grabs.

However, the problem is Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane both take time before they can accelerate their batting pace. Smith, nonetheless will be DC’s first-choice at his usual No.3 position. They might play Shimron Hetmyer at No.4, which also gives them an extra bowling option. Furthermore, Hetmyer will also bring his power-hitting prowess.

With Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis as No.5 and 6, Ponting will be a happy man. Pant will be leading Delhi this year, and it will be interesting how he fairs as a batsman under an added pressure. The Indian wicketkeeper has been in red-hot form since the Australia tour and will be the player to watch for this year.

One of the premium qualities which isn’t available in abundance in the Indian premier league is the ‘bonafide all-rounders’.

Marcus Stoinis belongs to that rare breed of cricketers who can bat anywhere in the batting order, bowl useful overs, both at the start and the end of a T20 innings and is a gun fielder. Stoinis is a powerfully built man – who has the ability to clear any ground with his brutal hitting process.

If there is any team that will suffer the most due to the one-week quarantine rule, it is Delhi. Their star South African fast bowlers were the biggest reason they advanced to their maiden IPL final. In their absence, DC will field their all India fast bowling unit in Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra will resume their duties in the spin department. Ashwin has been in impressive form in red-ball cricket. He was the lead wicket-taker for India in the Test series against Australia and England. But he has not played any white-ball cricket since IPL in November last year. With T20 WC in sight, he would like to make a big impact this season to return to India’s white-ball scheme of things.

Meanwhile, Mishra will be returning to the squad after missing out on IPL due to an injury. It will be interesting how he capitalises on this opportunity.

IPL 2021 playing 11: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Steve Smith, Shimron Hetmeyr, Rishabh Pant (c), Marcus Stoinis, Amit Mishra, Ravichandran Ashwin, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.