IPL 2018: Young blood powers Delhi Daredevils as old guard hangs up boots

Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw put up a prolific show in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and despite the team’s dismal performance, emerged victorious in other parameters.

After 10 years and six captains, Delhi Daredevils (DD) are yet to taste the ultimate victory in the IPL, one that would end the decade-old wait.

In its pursuit to lift the IPL trophy, DD has seen ace cricketers taking the captaincy and succumbing to pressure, much of which stems from mounting expectations and then ultimate despair of not fulfilling them.

Delhi Daredevils entered this new spectacle called IPL and left a mark in the very first season, finishing fourth. But the team has consistently languished at the bottom of the points table for over half the past decade and this year was no different.

On the penultimate evening of the IPL 2018 league matches, Delhi Daredevils defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians and ended their journey in IPL 2018. The victory did not have much significance as DD was already out of the contest, but it gave them a respectable exit.

The way the young side fought this year depicts the hunger inside the youngsters to not settle on anything less than the IPL title.

The trio (Iyer, Pant and Shaw) was the cynosure in Delhi’s squad and they earned everyone’s attention and respect at the end of the day.

The stadiums echoed with the names of these youngsters, especially Rishabh Pant who was one of the leading run scorers in IPL 2018.

Gambhir’s homecoming

Delhi chose Gambhir as its captain for IPL 2018, considering his role in successfully leading his previous franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders to the title glory in 2012 and 2014. Secondly, the batsman had already played for Delhi, so it was more of a homecoming for him.

The left-handed batsman has over 4,000 runs to his name and is among the leading scorers in IPL history.

Gambhir was entrusted with the task of turning the team's fortunes. Since the first season, cricket stalwarts such as Virender Sehwag (2008-12), Jayawardene (2013), Kevin Pietersen (2014), JP Duminy (2015) and Zaheer Khan (2016-17) had held the post. Despite this, the IPL trophy remained a distant dream.

Gambhir was no exception -- even he stumbled and the story ended on a similar note for him as well.

With or Without Gambhir

After the team lost five of six matches, came the news that Gambhir had relinquished captaincy and young Shreyas Iyer was made skipper to pull a miracle.

In a press brief, Gambhir described that sudden jolt to the already vulnerable team as: “As the leader of the ship, I take complete responsibility for where we are in the points table and I have decided, after seeing the points table and the performance of the team, to step down."

“I announce Shreyas Iyer as the next captain. I think that is the way forward for the franchise and we all feel that he is going to do a very good job. He is the right guy to take this franchise and team forward and we believe that we have got the group to turn it around. We still need to win seven out of the (remaining) eight games and it is absolutely possible in this format. Teams have done it in the past and we have the capability and we have the confidence to do that this year as well,” he added.

Gambhir took to twitter to explain further: “True, that I’ve stepped down from DD captaincy. Just to clarify it was my call, nothing from the management or coaching staff. I may not be leading from the front but I will be the last man standing for @DelhiDaredevils. No individual bigger than d team. Very much a #DilDIlli .”

After that, Gambhir did attend Delhi’s matches, but only from the dug-out. Gambhir had scored 85 runs in six matches, at an average of just 17. He had seen cloudy days earlier but this performance left a deep impact on him.

Delhi’s young trio

It seemed that the team would deliver a worse performance after Gambhir’s exit, but the young side showed a different character. The trio Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh pant and Shreyas Iyer played as if it was an art they had mastered very soon.

The trio did entertain the crowd and left the opposition baffled. Who can forget Iyer’s 93-run knock just on the day he became captain that led to DD's 55-run victory against KKR. The same day, Shaw became the joint youngest (18 years and 169 days) player in IPL to score a half century. 
In the next match against CSK, Delhi lost the battle but only after putting a brave fight, Rishabh Pant made a prolific 79 runs in that match, but fell short of taking his team towards victory. 

In the rain-hit match against Rajasthan at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi’s trio wreaked havoc and the side put 196 runs in 17.1 overs (Prithvi Shaw 47, Rishabh Pant 69, Shreyas Iyer 50) winning the match by four runs after D/L method was enforced.

In their next match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Iyer and Shaw played phenomenal innings but the side lost.

Five days later, when there was a chance for a revenge from SRH, one man, Rishabh Pant emerged as the ultimate hitter. Due to his blunder, Iyer and Harshal Patel had to return to the pavilion, but after that, he vent all his anger on the bowlers and only settled after scoring a brilliant century. However, Dhawan and Williamson’s knock deprived Delhi of a victory that day and Pant’s brilliant knock went in vain. 

In the next match against RCB, Rishabh Pant again played a crucial knock of 61 runs after the team suffered early jolts, but Kohli and AB de Villiers snatched victory.

Meanwhile, they also defeated CSK but it was primarily because of the bowlers, and in their last match against Mumbai Indians, Rishabh Pant played a balanced inning that was instrumental in the team’s victory but bowlers deserved the ultimate credit.

Amid all this, Vijay Shankar was a discovery for Delhi, although he remained unnoticed but his cameo proved helpful for the team in several occasions.
Perhaps it would be too early to say that DD’s captaincy can be passed easily now to youngsters like Iyer as even he slipped on a few occasions after taking over the role.

Overall, the youngsters have been convincing enough and it’s a long wait for the next season but a new avatar looks likely for Delhi Daredevils.

As IPL nears its conclusion this year and defending champions Mumbai Indians already eliminated, a new team will be crowned with the title. Meanwhile, Delhi Daredevils wait for its turn to live the moment of glory.

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