The perennial under-achievers of the Indian Premier League, Delhi Daredevils were undone by some tactical errors and the poor form of their marquee players, which hampered their performance in the eleventh edition. Going into the tournament, the Ricky Ponting-coached side had enough firepower in their depths to give their opponents a run for their money but as the season progressed, injuries to Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris affected their showing. Gautam Gambhir’s indifferent performance, both as player and captain too haunted the team and eventually Delhi finished last on the points table.

Here are the 5 reasons for the franchise’s dismal display in the league.

The Gambhir conundrum

Much was spoken about Gambhir’s decision to leave his former side Kolkata Knight Riders to finish his career with his home side DD. A lot was expected from the maverick player who had helped KKR to two IPL trophies in three years. However, he was unable to replicate his batting genius or his innovative captaincy tactics for his franchise this year, managing just 85 runs in 6 games - 55 of which came in the first match against Kings XI Punjab. However it was not only his lack of runs but the rate at which his runs came that seriously hurt Delhi. Opening the innings, Gambhir could score runs at a strike-rate of just 96.59, which is unacceptable in this format. He was hardly inspiring as a leader as well and by the team he did leave captaincy for Shreyas Iyer, the graph had been plotted.

Delhi were already last on the league table after six games and even though the side did pitch in with a few spirited performances under the leadership of Iyer, the no-show during Gambhir’s regime adversely affected the fortunes of the side.

The poor form of Indian seamers

With Kagiso Rabada, who has an economy rate of 6.7 in the shorter formats since 2016, ruled out even before the tournament began, the onus was on Mohammad Shami to lead the pace attack. However, with just 3 wickets in 4 matches and a hefty economy rate of 10.40, the experience of Shami soon turned into a liability and DD had no option but to rely on the likes of Vijay Shankar and Avesh Khan to partner Trent Boult, who was one of the positives this year.

Shankar picked up just a solitary wicket and went for over 11.60 runs per over, while Avesh took 4 but conceded 10.73 runs per over as well. Harshal Patel was slightly better, as he took 7 wickets at 9.54 with a strike-rate of 15, but he played only 5 games, and without much support from the likes of Daniel Christian, Liam Plunkett and Junior Dala, Boult was often the sole warrior in the bowling front for his side.

Unfortunate injuries did not help Delhi’s cause

South African Morris has been one of Delhi’s marquee players in the last few seasons of the tournament, both with bat and ball. He had picked up 12 wickets in 2017 with an economy rate of 7.74 and had scored at a strike-rate of 163.82 with the bat. Even though he failed to find his momentum with the ball this season, picking up 3 wickets in 4 matches with an economy rate of 10.21, he was proving to be a dangerous bet with the bat, scoring runs down the order with a strike-rate of 176.92. However, he was struck with back injury after just 4 matches, which proved to be disastrous for the side.

Though Morris had been unable to be consistent with the ball, he remains a big-match player and sooner or later, he would have found his rhythm rolling. Along with Boult, Morris could have provided Delhi with the crucial scalps that would have covered up the average form of the pacers from India. With the bat as well, Morris has the ability to turn a few close matches in his favour and with foreign finishers like Glenn Maxwell and Christian being in woeful form, Morris could have been the side’s X-factor.

His replacement, Dala failed to pick up any wicket and it is safe to say that Morris’ injury, along with his compatriot Rabada’s proved to be huge factors in Delhi’s poor performance in 2018.

The failure of the foreign recruits to make an impact

In the batting front, it was only the Indian trio of Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw who made any sort of an impact for the side. Much was expected from the likes of Maxwell, Jason Roy and Colin Munro but not only were the latter two given inconsistent runs in the team, they failed to impress much in the chances as well.

Englishman Roy, who has an average of 143.72 in the T20s did score an unbeaten 91 in his first game this year but only 29 more runs thereafter in 4 games meant that he was benched. Before the league started, New Zealand’s Munro was considered a bargain buy for the side but his batting displays this year showcased his struggles against spin. The Kiwi has a batting strike-rate of 163.59 in T20 internationals with three hundreds and was in phenomenal form coming into IPL 2018. However, just 63 runs in 5 matches meant that he was kept away from the side for a major part of the tournament and with even Roy failing to create an impact, the responsibility doubled for the talented Indian youngsters.

Tactical blunders by coach Ricky Ponting

Proteas cricketer Graeme Smith had been vocal about the extended chances that had been given to Maxwell by coach Ponting, despite the former’s pathetic run with the bat. Despite being unable to time the ball, Maxi played 12 matches that fetched only 169 runs at a poor average of 14.08. The thing that angered Smith was that Ponting remained so fixated on getting his countryman to form that he kept shuffling with the batting order, even pushing Maxwell to open the innings. Roy and Munro, who too were in a bad run of form, were relegated to the benches, while the former Kings XI Punjab player kept getting one chance after another, when it is a known story that either Munro or Roy can be more dangerous on their day.

Coupled with poor fielding standards and the inability to capitalise on strong positions, Delhi faced yet another horrendous season and it is hoped they can return to script a fairy-tale next year.