Delhi Capitals (DC) had a memorable Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. They dominated the edition for the most part and even topped the league stage before floundering towards the end. DC made some interesting choices as far as their retention list is concerned. They went with Rishabh Pant (Rs 16 crore) as their captain and Player 1 and kept left-arm spinner Axar Patel (Rs 9 crore), Prithvi Shaw (Rs 7.5 crore), and Anrich Nortje (Rs 6.5 crore). Among the big names they released were Shikhar Dhawan, former captain Shreyas Iyer, Shimron Hetmyer, Steve Smith, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Kagiso Rabada. Since the franchise retained four players and altered the pay package for players, they have a purse of Rs 47.5 crore left for the mega auction. Keeping in mind the same, we look at five players DC could target at the auction in January.
One big purchase: Marcus Stoinis (6-8 crore)
All-rounder Marcus Stoinis proved a valuable player with some crucial knocks for Australia in their title-clinching T20 World Cup campaign. He came in under pressure and made some vital contributions. His numbers won’t tell the entire story, but his unbeaten 24 against South Africa at the start of the tournament and his 40* in the semi-final were worth a lot more. Australia did not need him much with the ball considering their bowling strength, but he is a decent fifth bowler.
DC won’t need to be told much about Stoinis since he was with the franchise before being released. Considering the form that he is in, Delhi must look to pick the all-rounder at the upcoming mega auction. His value to the team goes beyond numbers and has got a lot to do with how he is utilized. In IPL 2021, he scored only 89 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 123.61 and claimed two wickets.
Elite purchases: Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada (3-4 crore)
DC were forced to release prolific opener Shikhar Dhawan and decided to retain Shaw, keeping the future in mind. Even if any of the two new teams do not pick Dhawan before the mega auction, his price is likely to be relatively high, and DC might not be able to go for him. South African wicketkeeper-bat could be one of the alternatives. De Kock can open the innings and keep wickets if Pant needs rest. The Proteas opener did not have a great run in the T20 World Cup and was also embroiled in the knee-taking controversy. Further, he was released by MI after an underwhelming season. But he brings along the experience and great big-hitting ability.
One can understand why DC picked Nortje over Rabada in their retention list. But the franchise must look to buy back the latter at the auction. He might have been off-color in IPL 2021, but Rabada is a proven performer with the ball. Before IPL 2021, he was their standout performer in the preceding two seasons. If he gets his yorkers and bouncers right, few batters can keep them out.
Decent purchases: Nitish Rana, Mitchell Santner (1-2 crore)
DC released Steve Smith because they couldn’t utilize him well. They could instead pick Nitish Rana at the auction, who, like Smith, played the role of a floater for Kolkata Knight Riders quite adeptly in IPL 2021. He opened the innings in the first half and moved to the middle-order in the second after Venkatesh Iyer was drafted in and made an impression in both roles. He can turn his arm over as well.
Having released veteran leggie, Amit Mishra, DC, can go for left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner at the auction. Santner has proved highly effective in Indian conditions, rarely goes for a lot for runs, and is a handy bat down the order as well. His inclusion can add greater versatility to the DC lineup and can give them additional options when looking to select an XI.