Predicted Playing XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Shimron Hetmyer*, Marcus Stoinis*, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada*, Anrich Nortje*, Amit Mishra/Ishant Sharma.
Substitutes (by order of playing XI chances): Harshal Patel, Alex Carey*, Sandeep Lamichhane*, Daniel Sams*, Keemo Paul*, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohit Sharma, Lalit Yadav, Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande.
Vulnerable Spots: Shimron Hetmyer, Anrich Nortje, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.
Shimron Hetmyer – Between Shimron Hetmyer and Alex Carey, the former is in better form, has a bigger upside, and cost the Delhi Capitals a lot more to bring in. But when it comes to a playing XI spot this season, Hetmyer will always have the Carey sword hanging over his head.
Unless Delhi are open to either split or demote Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, they will be looking for a lower middle-order batsman to fill this overseas slot. And Carey is perceived to be better in that role because of the fleeting success he had as a finisher for Australia.
In addition to it, the call rests in the hands of Ricky Ponting, a coach who is more familiar with Carey. Hetmyer, however, will get the first go, as the Australian wicketkeeper-batsman is on national duty in England and is only available for selection from the team’s second game. He has to hit the ground running right away to hold on to his spot.
Potential replacement for the spot: Alex Carey.
Anrich Nortje – Be it Shaun Tait with Australia, Aaron Finch over a proven Lendl Simmons for Mumbai Indians, or Glenn Maxwell as opener for Delhi Daredevils, Ponting - both as captain and coach - has a history of going for the ‘aggressive’ option. And it is one of the biggest reasons why Anrich Nortje, despite being a late addition to the squad, is even being discussed as a first XI option here.
However, if the South African quick can’t return the faith on the field, Delhi would soon be forced into making a change with a number of attractive options on the bench.
Potential replacements for the spot: Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane, Daniel Sams, Keemo Paul, Harshal Patel.
Ishant Sharma – The addition of a couple of attractive pace bowling options in the squad this season puts Ishant Sharma’s spot under threat, as Delhi could instead use it for Nortje’s raw pace or Daniel Sams’ all-round value.
The switch to the UAE, which makes a spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, and Amit Mishra a possibility, doesn’t help the Indian pacer’s case either.
Potential replacements for the spot: Anrich Nortje, Daniel Sams, Amit Mishra.
Fantasy set-up influencer:
A specialist top 5: Irrespective of what Delhi do with their top 5, they can’t get a quality over out of them. This makes Marcus Stoinis, despite his limitations, an attractive fantasy pick, as the Australian allrounder is the team’s only 6th bowling option.
The fingerspin twist: A legspinner is one of the T20 team’s primary requirements in the current scene, but given the way Delhi are set up, they could go into some games without a wristspin option at all.
Axar's all-round value and Ashwin’s experience lock two spin bowling slots, with Mishra and Sandeep Lamichhane fighting against specialist pace and all-round pace bowling options for a look-in at No.11.
What’s the fantasy value against Delhi Capitals?
Banking on a middle order misuse: Ponting has hinted at using Stoinis as a floater this season, which could have an impact on the fantasy potential of Iyer and Pant. Add the possibility of Hetmyer either demoting or breaking up the Indian international pairing, you could save your slot for a more certain fantasy option till you get clarity on where the value lies in the Delhi middle-order.
Even in general, not betting on players whose usage you aren’t sure of is one of the smarter ploys in a season-long fantasy game.
Fantasy Ranking Order
1. Rishabh Pant – Despite playing in the middle order, Pant is the tournament’s leading run-scorer since 2017. And the 22-year-old also keeps wickets, furthering his fantasy potential.
Hetmyer and Stoinis can have an impact on Pant’s value in daily fantasy, but you should be able to get good returns in seasonal games where you hold him over a period of time.
2. Kagiso Rabada – Rabada was the second-leading wicket-taker last year, with 25 wickets to his name at an average of 14.7 and an economy rate of 7.8. Given that the South African international is the team’s go-to bowler in all 3 phases of an innings, the only concern, as it is with any pace bowler in a season-long fantasy, is a potential injury ruling him out of the tournament.
3. Shikhar Dhawan – From a fantasy point of view, there are few better bets in the tournament when it comes to safe run accumulation. With 2351 runs in the last 5 years at an average of 35, which puts him behind only to Virat Kohli and David Warner in the leading run-scorers list, Shikhar Dhawan’s track record speaks for itself.
4. Shreyas Iyer – Among the 19 players who have scored 750 or more runs in the last couple of seasons, Shreyas Iyer has the second-lowest strike rate (125.6). One of those whose scoring rate doesn’t always help the team; from a fantasy of view, however, it doesn’t cost you much as long as he keeps scoring those runs.
While it could be tricky this year in daily fantasy with Shimron Hetmyer/Alex Carey interfering with his game-time, you can still back him to have a good year in season fantasy.
5. Marcus Stoinis – Another player who has a problematic strike rate, but still finds himself higher up because of the all-round value he carries. Refer to the ‘fantasy set-up influencer – A specialist top 5’ section of the article for how the Delhi set-up makes Stoinis value from a fantasy point of view.
6. Axar Patel – From being a bowler who can bat, Axar Patel’s batting has come a long way in the last couple of years that he can now be categorised as an allrounder. Positioned to bat No.7 in addition to being one of the only 5 frontline options in the XI, the left-arm spin bowling allrounder is amongst the best budget picks in the tournament.
7. Prithvi Shaw – Even at the young age of 20, Shaw is amongst India’s best batsmen against raw pace. In the IPL, though, it is your spin-playing ability that decides how good a season you have. And Shaw’s returns so far against legspin and left-arm spin don’t look good.
8. Ravichandran Ashwin – Ashwin is a defensive bowler, which helps his team on the field when it wants to contain, but from a fantasy point of view, you need wickets. Ashwin doesn’t get you many.
9. Shimron Hetmyer – Refer to the ‘Shimron Hetmyer – Vulnerable Spot’ section of the article.
10. Anrich Nortje/Amit Mishra/Ishant Sharma - Refer to the ‘Vulnerable Spots’ section of the article.
Season Picks - Bankers, steals, and differentials:
Top banker: Rishabh Pant.
Top differential(s): Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel.
Top steal(s): Anrich Nortje, Harshal Patel.