It has been just over two weeks since the fifth edition of Indian Premier League got under way in Chennai. And before the first ball was bowled on April 4, there were at least four favourites for the title.
However, in that quartet of teams, Delhi Daredevils were not part of it. But after 24 games in IPL 5, Delhi have been so dominant that they are suddenly looking the team to beat. Barring their loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore, where they missed three of their big batting stars, Delhi have won four matches to occupy the top spot in the points table.
Most of the pre-tournament talk revolved around two-time champions Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders. Though these are early days in the league, the Virender Sehwag-led Delhi are looking far more settled than the other eight teams.
It was a treat to watch Kevin Pietersen dismantle his previous employers, Deccan Chargers on Thursday at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The Englishman, now playing for a third team in IPL, proved why is one of the most aggressive batsmen in world cricket.
Previously, Pietersen had very little success with Bangalore and Deccan teams. Last year, Deccan traded the lanky batsman to Delhi. And what a way to reply to his former team.
Pietersen's audacity, deft strokes of Mahela Jayawardene, and big hits from Ross Taylor and skipper Sehwag can make any bowler scary. These four are the strong pillars of Delhi's batting.
As it was witnessed on Thursday, even if Delhi have one of those bad days where three of these four fail, don't bother. There is always the fourth one to take the team home. Delhi were left tottering by Deccan early on in the chase when Sehwag, Jayawardene and Taylor failed, but the game was not over. Pietersen ensured that they won.
It is not that Delhi is only about batting. Take a look at their bowling attack. The tall fast bowler from South Africa, Morne Morkel, bowls with pace in excess of 140 kmph which will push any batsman on the backfoot. Morkel has been consistent with the ball. He is the Purple Cap holder with 12 wickets. He has taken those wickets at a very impressive average of 9.33 and a strike rate of 9.5. His economy rate is under 6 which is excellent in Twenty20 cricket.
Indian fast bowler Umesh Yadav is also not far behind. He has six scalps to his name. Irfan Pathan has done well in patches, but has shone with the bat which is an added advantage.
The surprise package from Delhi is their left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. The unknown Indian has made headlines with his economical spells and wickets. In five matches, he has bowled 17 overs and conceded only 83 runs for six wickets. His economy rate of 4.88 is the second best in current IPL (minimum of 15 overs). Mumbai Indians Lasith Malinga is the best with 4.54 (15.5 overs).
Australia opener David Warner is yet to join the team. He is on international duty in the Caribbean. It will be a tough choice to make for the Delhi team management once the left-hander arrives.
The way they are going, Delhi's Daredevilry can culminate in the title on May 27. Or is there any other team which can outdare the Daredevils?