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What Led to Delhi Capitals' Downfall? Home (Dis)Advantage, No-Show From Indians

IPL 2023: With nine defeats in 14 games, Delhi Capitals finished in bottom two for the first time since 2018.

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What went wrong for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2023, you ask? Everything, almost everything, is the answer. 

Perhaps, what went right for Delhi Capitals in IPL 2023 would have been the right question, and one that would have solicited a much shorter response. On the flipside, there can be pages and pages written on what went wrong for Delhi Capitals this season. 

It started for them much before the start of the 2023 season, in fact, it was late last year when their skipper Rishabh Pant was seriously injured in a major car accident. While he was lucky to survive the potentially fatal crash, and thank God for that, it made him unavailable for this season. 

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IPL 2023: With nine defeats in 14 games, Delhi Capitals finished in bottom two for the first time since 2018.

IPL 2023: David Warner has cut a lonely figure in the Delhi Capitals' camp.

(Photo: BCCI)

Warner's Lone Hand 

David Warner, who had a decent season in 2022 after shifting base to the franchise following an unceremonious exit from Sunrisers Hyderabad, was yet to get fully embedded in the side before he was offered the captaincy armband, in Pant's absence. Despite a slow start to his season, Warner caught up in the long run, but did not find much support from his teammates. 

No matter how much statistical analysis comes into the game, the baseline remains the same – score more runs and pick up more wickets for the best chance of taking your team to victory, and Delhi Capitals did neither, not enough anyway, in IPL 2023. 

David Warner finished the league stage as the sixth-highest run-scorer and among only seven batters to breach the 500-run mark in the competition till now, with 516 runs from 14 matches at 36.86. He struck at over 130 overall and had the best of 86, which came in Delhi's final match against Chennai Super Kings. 

Shockingly, Delhi have no other batter among the top 25 run-scorers of IPL 2023, with Axar Patel their next best, residing as low as the 27th spot, with 283 runs from 14 games at a strike rate of almost 140. 

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IPL 2023: With nine defeats in 14 games, Delhi Capitals finished in bottom two for the first time since 2018.

IPL 2023: Axar Patel was not utilised in the most optimum manner.

(Photo: BCCI)

Axar Patel's Form Not Optimised 

Despite consistent calls for Patel being promoted up the order, the all-rounder kept walking out to bat in almost impossible situations and despite flailing his willow and connecting a few, the course of the match had already been decided by the time the southpaw had an opportunity to show his pyrotechnics. 

Patel is the only Delhi player in the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the season impact list with 676 points, only behind Faf du Plessis (804.4) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (731.9).

He was clearly DC's second-best batter in the season and despite all the reasons Delhi would have had to not promote him, it seems counter-intuitive to not let your best better face the maximum deliveries in a format where runs are on a premium, much more than wickets. 

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Likewise, Mitchell Marsh ended up as Delhi's highest wicket-taker, which in itself is a telling sign when a batting all-rounder, who played just nine out of Delhi's 14 group games, ends up at the top of the team's charts, but a lowly 20th overall. 

For all your tactics and maneuvers, and the best brains stationed in the Delhi Capitals dugout such as Ricky Ponting, Ajit Agarkar, Biju George, James Hopes, Pravin Amre, Shane Watson and Sourav Ganguly, it's ultimately the players who have to perform, and if they don't deliver, there isn't much that the support stuff can do. 

IPL 2023: With nine defeats in 14 games, Delhi Capitals finished in bottom two for the first time since 2018.

IPL 2023: Manish Pandey could not live up to the expectations.

(Photo: BCCI)

No-Show From Local Players 

The biggest disappointment for Delhi this season came from the domestic Indian batters who did not pull their weight at all, so much so that at one point, Delhi had to field an all-overseas cast featuring David Warner, Phil Salt, Mitchell Marsh and Rilee Rossouw. 

Manish Pandey, for instance, an established Indian batter, got 10 opportunities but could cobble up just 160 runs and that too at a very poor strike rate of 109.59, with just one half-century to show for. 
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More importantly, once Rishabh Pant was out, the onus fell on Prithvi Shaw to bolster the Delhi Capitals' batting with consistent opening partnerships alongside David Warner. However, Shaw fell off the radar completely and had to be dropped after producing just 47 runs from his first six innings at a ridiculous average of 7.83. He did hit a half-century upon return, but the ship had long sailed by then.

Not just the local Indian batters, the domestic bowlers did nothing to stand out either. Players like Aman Hakim Khan, Lalit Yadav, Khaleel Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Praveen Dubey, Ripal Patel, Abishek Porel, Priyam Garg and Vicky Ostwal certainly have pedigree but do not inspire enough confidence to win a match or two by themselves.

Hence, the DC scouting machinery will also have to work overtime to unearth some rough diamonds from the Indian domestic circuit who can prove to be real game-changers.

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IPL 2023: With nine defeats in 14 games, Delhi Capitals finished in bottom two for the first time since 2018.

IPL 2023: Arun Jaitley Stadium's slow track was not what Delhi Capitals batting-heavy team required.

(Photo: BCCI)

Home (Dis)advantage: Kotla, Not the Qila Anymore

Last, but not the least, the surface at the rechristened Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi also left a lot to be desired. The low and slow pitch was the complete antithesis of what a batting line-up packed with overseas power-hitters craves for.

For instance, when they got a pitch to their liking in Dharamsala against Punjab Kings, the Delhi batting came into its own - Warner (46 off 31), Shaw (54 off 38), Rossouw (82* off 37) and Salt (26* off 14) - with all their batters blazing away at a strike rate of over 140.
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"I think playing on a nice wicket helps. It has been challenging for us back at home with a lot of slow wickets and inconsistent pitches, it's good to get the guys here for some momentum. At your home venue, you want a bit of consistency and that's been the difficult thing. We haven't been able to work out what the best total is there," Warner said after DC posted 213/2 against PBKS to win by 15 runs.

So, for the next season, Delhi ought to shore up their domestic Indian batting, not lose wickets in clumps, have a much more rewarding powerplay and firm up their death bowling. Or simply, Warner and Ponting need to catch hold of the Delhi curator, and to pay him their respects.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  David Warner   Manish Pandey   Axar Patel 

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