If there is one team that has been consistently underperformed over the eleven years of the IPL, it is the Delhi-based franchise. They are the only remaining side not to have ever qualified for an IPL final.
Though they have had players of high calibre such as Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, David Warner, Gautam Gambhir, Mahela Jayawardene, Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra dawn their colours, Delhi has never looked like a champion side in the making.
Delhi had topped the IPL points table in 2012. But their joy was shortlived as they lost once to the second-placed KKR in Qualifier 1 and then to the winner of the Eliminator CSK.
Owing to their underwhelming returns in the tournament, the Delhi Daredevils attempted a masterstroke by buying back their long-lost veteran opening batsman Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir had become an IPL legend ever since he left the DD. He successfully led the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to two IPL title wins in 2012 and 2014.
While Gambhir did start off well for Delhi with the bat by scoring a 55 off 42 in their opening match of IPL 2018, he failed to continue his batting form ahead and was not even able to reach the 20-run mark in the five games to follow.
After a slump in form, Gambhir quit captaincy and subsequently got dropped from the playing XI by new captain Shreyas Iyer and coach Ricky Ponting.
Shreyas Iyer did a great job, both with the bat, as well as captain of the Delhi based franchise last season. He impressed many with his high risk-high return captaincy decisions. Iyer was one of the leading run scorers in the IPL 2018 and he provided the much-needed support to the exceptionally talented Rishabh Pant.
This year, Delhi Capitals would be eyeing the IPL Trophy with more desperation than ever before, as they have so far resorted to a change in franchise name as well as change in leadership by appointing an Indian team future star.
Looking at the recent retentions, releases, and trades, and the much talked about IPL Auction, let us look at what else Delhi Capitals need to look forward to doing during the 2019 IPL.
There were a few releases that might have come as surprises to the fans, as the Capitals let go of flamboyant all-rounder Maxwell who underperformed for them last year and ostentatious England opener Jason Roy.
Though leaving out Maxwell could prove to be a decent move, looking at his salary cap of ₹9 crores, but releasing Roy does come as a bit of a shocker. He did fairly well for them in 2018, also winning them a couple matches single-handedly with the bat.
DC have retained Kiwi power hitter Colin Munro, who did not fare very well for them last season, and certainly not better than the released Jason Roy. However, it seems like they wanted to avoid the headache of picking two openers out of the pool of three deserving candidates such as Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw and Jason Roy.
Munro, however, has a lot of experience of batting at number 3 and would be comfortable doing that too if need be. However, he is not expected to be part of their starting XI.
DC's IPL 2018's hot pick, Gautam Gambhir was also released by the franchise, something that was not as big a shock, as they had indicated that picking him was not a good choice. When he was dropped from the playing XI, soon after he quit captaincy, the management made it very clear that their hopes from the southpaw had gone in vain.
They also released India's premier fast bowler Mohammed Shami. This seems to be a justifiable move considering that Shami's record in T20 cricket has been ordinary and he has never looked lethal with the ball in the shortest format.
Domestic Talents and USP
What Delhi has looked to do this year, and has succeeded in doing too, is to acquire top class, domestic players. Most sides have above average domestic players and outstanding International players. Delhi has gone for just the opposite! They have bought just above average foreigners but top-notch Indian players and this, for sure, could prove to be a masterstroke.
When one looks at the pool of Indian players DC has, one is left in awe. The seeds Delhi has sown this year are certain to sprout into brilliant new trees and also bear sweet fruits in the near future.
The Intelligent Purchases
While Delhi did purchase the new Indian Test regular, Hanuma Vihari, they are not likely to give him a go in their starting XI. He has probably been acquired as an emergency replacement of an Indian batsman in the top order, be it Shaw, Iyer or Dhawan.
What did draw a lot of attention was the purchase of Axar Patel, one of India's most sought after all-rounders. Patel had been the X-factor of KXIP for all these years, and they expressed their fondness towards him last year when they let go of all their team and only retained Patel.
It was a clear indication that they were looking to build a team around their highly treasured Axar Patel. However, KXIP did let him go this year and he fetched a hefty ₹5 crore. It would be interesting to see how he does in his new franchise that would be run by Indian-ness!
Delhi did want an experienced Indian fast bowler after letting go of Mohammad Shami, and they soon acquired the highly experienced Ishant Sharma for an economical ₹1.1 crore.
Considering that his performances have been pretty much the same as Mohammad Shami's, as far as T20 bowling is concerned, and their roles for the sides they play also remain the same, Delhi seem to have made a deal. They have saved a valuable ₹2 crore as Shami was being paid ₹3 crores.
One very interesting and eye-catchy buy Delhi has made this year is the Protean batsman Colin Ingram. Ingram has scored runs at mammoth strike rates wherever and for whichever franchise he has played. Ingram will be very handy for them in the middle order.
The probable Playing XI
Looking at the way they have performed this Auction, let us have a look at who all might be part of their starting playing XI.
#1 Prithvi Shaw
Just as last season, Prithvi Shaw would be opening the innings for the Delhi Capitals and they would be having slightly higher hopes from him than last year.
Prithvi, now being an India regular in the Test format, will need to bat more responsibly and look to provide solid starts to the side.
#2 Shikhar Dhawan
The kind of form and ability Shikhar Dhawan has shown with the bat in T20s over the past few months has been fantastic. He has scored massively and at monstrous strike rates. Dhawan's experience and class will ease off the pressure from Shaw's shoulders, and their partnership could be lethal for any opposition.
#3 Shreyas Iyer (c)
Shreyas Iyer might not look as lustrous or eye-catchy as his numbers suggest, but he too adds a lot of value to the side he plays for. Being a risk-taking young captain, who does very well with the bat too, Iyer walks in as the innings builder and can serve as the link between the talented openers and the swashbuckling Rishabh Pant.
#4 Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant was quite close from winning the Orange Cap for most runs in 2018 IPL. He has always proven his critics wrong by doing whatever they have termed out of reach for him.
During the 2018 IPL, Pant chipped in with steady yet aggressive knocks and scored big. Having proved himself as a capable Test batsman by scoring two 90-plus scores in India and two hundreds in England and Australia, he is undoubtedly the future star of Indian cricket.
#5 Colin Ingram
The South African batsman has been making the headlines since 2018 for the superb T20 knocks he has played. The Delhi franchise has rewarded his hard work with a hefty ₹6.4 crores. Ingram would be expected to hit the boundary ropes pretty often and also finish off matches for the side.
#6 Axar Patel
The young man who made Punjab his IPL home and was their most treasured possession was deserted by the same KXIP this year. Axar will have to prove himself yet again as a genuine all-rounder since he would also be looking to make a return to the Indian side.
#7 Chris Morris
The protean all-rounder has been excellent for Delhi over the years, and his retention has shown a great deal of belief on his abilities by the management. Morris, however, would have a bigger role of finishing off innings along with bowling in the middle and death overs.
#8 Amit Mishra
Probably IPL's best ever spinner, Mishra has created a niche for himself with the ball. With a handful of hat-tricks and many wickets to his name, Mishra is definitely a force to reckon with. It will probably be his last or one of his last seasons of the league and he would look to finish on a high. His experience will benefit the young Lamichhane a lot.
#9 Trent Boult
The Kiwi left-arm pacer has everything in him to be the talking point of the 2019 WC and DC would look to gain from his preparation for the World Cup. Boult is New Zealand's first choice swing bowler and has plenty of international as well as IPL experience. Given his outstanding swinging abilities with the new ball and superb fielding, Boult will be a key unit of the Delhi team.
#10 Sandeep Lamichhane
The young boy from Nepal, who has seen loads of success of late will be an integral part of the Delhi based franchise. He will get to learn quite a bit from Amit Mishra and their spell together could be troublesome for batsmen in the middle overs.
#11 Ishant Sharma
India's Senior Test bowler and veteran seamer Ishant would be looked up to by younger bowlers and the franchise would expect him to deliver at pressure situations with his experience. Ishant Sharma might want to make a comeback to the Indian limited-overs side by performing well in the IPL.
Depth in the squad
Colin Munro remains as a replacement for any of the top 3 batsmen, as and when needed. If he plays, the team might have to look at playing Harshal Patel in place of Chris Morris or Avesh Khan in place of Trent Boult.
Avesh Khan remains as a replacement as mentioned above and also for Ishant Sharma.
Hanuma Vihari and Manjot Kalra can be Indian replacements for any of the top 3 batsmen.
Rabada is a possible replacement of Trent Boult. Rabada might even get the edge due to his batting abilities.