Reports | Newcastle to sign Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele in next summer


According to reports from Mundo Deportivo, Newcastle United has prioritized the signing of Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona in the summer and will look to make an official offer to his entourage soon. The Frenchman’s current deal at the Camp Nou ends in the summer and could leave on a free transfer.

The journey from Delhi Daredevils to Delhi Capitals has been a long one for the franchise. Players and leaders have come and yet the wait for their first-ever IPL title remains as elusive as ever. For the last three years, Delhi Capitals have been right on top throughout the league stage. Under Shreyas Iyer’s captaincy, they reached the final in 2020. In 2021, Rishabh Pant took over from an injured Iyer as captain of the Delhi Capitals and helped his team finish atop the table with 20 points after the end of the league stage.

Like 2020 it felt like Delhi Capitals would reach the final and it would finally be their moment in the sun. But, that didn’t happen as Delhi Capitals lost both qualifiers and crashed out of the tournament. The problem with the Delhi-based franchise has been not being able to win crucial moments. This is something coach Ricky Ponting and captain Rishabh Pant will be hoping to rectify if they want to win the title this year. 

However, this year the Delhi Capitals will be facing a new challenge in addition to handling pressure. With the mega auction concluding in February, the team has quite a few faces in their side which is exciting but at the same time poses a challenge as they rebuild and reassign roles and responsibilities to their players. Ponting and Pant will have to put a lot of effort behind the scenes to make sure that when the team takes the field this year their players know exactly what is expected of them.

Last year, Marcus Stoinis, Kagiso Rabada and Shikhar Dhawan made their presence known whenever they stepped out on the field. All three performed brilliantly which was a major reason for their success in recent years. This time the story is a bit different as none of them are a part of the squad and it is not going to be easy to fill the big boots that have been left behind for the newcomers.

With the Indian Premier League becoming a ten-team tournament it will be interesting to see how the team management of the franchise strategises against different opposition in IPL 2022. The good news and maybe the most important one from the Delhi Capitals’ perspective is the meteoric rise of Rishabh Pant.

Rishabh Pant has matured not only as a batter and wicket-keeper but also as a cricketer. Pant has started reading and analyzing situations better which reflects in his batting quite a few times. If the Delhi Capitals skipper can sharpen his tactical skills from behind the stumps then it is highly likely that he can lead his team to their first title in the IPL.

Let’s have a look at the squad that the Delhi Capitals managed to put together after the mega-auction which took place last month in Bengaluru.

Delhi Capitals Full Squad: Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw, David Warner, Ashwin Hebbar, KS Bharat, Mandeep Singh, Yash Dhull, Rovman Powell, Tim Siefert, Axar Patel, Mitchell Marsh, Sarfaraz Khan, Lalit Yadav, Ripal Patel, Anrich Nortje, Shardul Thakur, Mustafizur Rehman, Kuldeep Yadav, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Chetan Sakariya, Pravin Dubey, Lungi Ngidi, Vicky Ostwal.

Uncertainty at the top

Prithvi Shaw will partner with David Warner at the top of the order for the Delhi Capitals this season. Previously, it was Shikhar Dhawan who partnered Shaw up top and was very successful. Since 2019, Dhawan has consistently scored over 500 runs every season which shows the kind of stability he gave to the Delhi-based franchise at the top of the order. However, with the left-hander moving to Punjab Kings it is yet to be seen what David Warner can do. In 2021, Prithvi Shaw played 15 games for the Delhi Capitals and scored 479 runs with an average of 31.93 and a strike rate of 159.13. However, Shaw’s career average and strike rate in IPL is a bit lower than what he achieved last year. In the 53 games that he has featured in since 2019, Shaw has scored 1305 runs with an average of 24.62 and a strike rate of 146.30.

Prithvi Shaw’s batting records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

David Warner, on the other hand, has a lot of experience and helped Sunrisers Hyderabad win the IPL back in 2016. The Australian batter had a horrendous IPL season last year. He was sacked from SRH captaincy mid-season and was even dropped from the team after his poor showing with the bat. Warner played eight games for his former franchise in 2021 and managed to score just 195 runs with an average of 24.37 and a strike rate of 107.73. It is important to note that Warner will only be available from April 6 for the IPL and prior to that Yash Dhull might be opening with Prithvi Shaw. 

David Warner has consistently scored over 500 runs every season since making his debut back in 2014 and it was only in 2021 that his form dropped which led to his ouster from SRH. The left-hander in his IPL career has so far played 150 games and scored 5449 runs with an average of 41.59 and a strike rate of 139.96. It will be interesting to see if David Warner can return to form and better the legacy that Shikhar Dhawan has left behind.

Middle-order woes

Till last season, Delhi Capitals had big names when it came to middle-order batters. The likes of Shreyas Iyer, Marcus Stoinis, Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane and Shemron Hetmyer made it look like a dangerous side. But, Delhi Capitals did not get any of them back in the mega-auction which makes their middle-order look a bit inexperienced and opposition teams can use this a chance to create pressure on them.

Delhi Capitals bought Mitchell Marsh in place of Marcus Stoinis in the mega auction last month. The former SRH all-rounder did brilliantly in the T20 World Cup last year and looks like a great buy for the Delhi Capitals and could potentially bat at number three for them. But, like David Warner, Mitchell Marsh too will only be available after April 6 due to their ongoing tour of Pakistan. 

Mitchell Marsh’s batting record in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

This brings us to Sarfaraz Khan as this can be a blessing in disguise for the right-handed batter who has been performing consistently at the domestic level. Sarfaraz Khan can take the number three spot and show the world that he belongs at this stage. The right-handed batters’ numbers aren’t very great in the IPL so far. Sarfaraz Khan has played 40 games so far since 2015 in the IPL and scored 441 runs with an average of 23.21 and a strike rate of 138.24.

Rishabh Pant will most likely be batting at the number four slot from where he can anchor the innings and can also help his side finish well. The Delhi Capitals skipper has played 84 matches since making his debut in 2016 scoring 2498 runs with an average of 35.18 and a strike rate of 147.46. West Indies batter Rovman Powell could take up the number 5 position where the Delhi team will need a power-hitter who can help them give the impetus that is required in the final overs of the game.

KS Bharat or Mandeep Singh can be used by the Capitals at the number 6 slot. After which Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur can come in and hit the long ball.

Balanced bowling unit

Delhi Capitals in the last few years have dominated because of the bowling attack that they possess. Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada have troubled batters consistently. Kagiso Rabada like Shikhar Dhawan has moved to Punjab Kings for the upcoming season. Yet, Delhi Capitals have managed to put together a solid bowling line-up.

Anrich Nortje’s bowling records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

Shardul Thakur was bought by the Delhi franchise in the mega auction that was held in Bengaluru last month for a sum of Rs 10.75 crore. This goes on to show the kind of confidence that the team management has in Shardul Thakur’s ability. The right-arm pacer who was a part of the Chennai Super Kings played an integral role for them to help his former franchise lift the trophy. Shardul Thakur has played 61 matches with 67 wickets under his belt at an economy rate of 8.89 and a strike rate of 18.80.

Anrich Nortje will be alongside Shardul Thakur provided he is fit to play. Nortje has been out of action since the commencement of the T20 World Cup last year. The South African pacer has picked 34 wickets from 24 matches with an economy rate of 7.65 and a strike rate of 16.11.Chetan Sakariya, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Lungi Ngidi and Mustafizur Rehman can add more power to the already threatening pace attack of the Delhi team.

Mitchell Marsh’s bowling records in IPL © SportsCafe Graphics Team

In the spin department, Axar Patel will be starting in the playing XI. If conditions are spin-friendly then it is highly likely that Kuldeep Yadav will also be playing more often.

Delhi Capitals Strongest Possible XI: Prithvi Shaw, David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Rishabh Pant, Rovman Powell, Sarfaraz Khan, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Anrich Nortje, Mustafizur Rehman.

Delhi Capitals have done well consistently for the past three seasons but to win the title they will have to win the crucial moments. If this team under Ricky Ponting and Rishabh Pant clicks, they will be firm favourites to win the title.