NEW DELHI: Ever since coming onboard a sinking ship also known by the name ‘Delhi Daredevils’ two years ago, JP Duminy has been the team’s man with the pail. The year before, his voyage with the Delhi franchise hadn’t been an easy one for the South African either. A ruptured achilles tendon that he sustained against Australia in a Test match in December 2012 ensured that a major chunk of his next professional year was rendered void.
While Duminy was nursing his left foot back to its full strength, Delhi’s hull was strewn with holes. They ended last in the 2013 IPL, with just three wins — none of them away — in sixteen matches. The franchise’s top of the league table finish and Champions League T20 qualification seemed like it happened not a year, but an eon ago.
Delhi’s strategists decided that a reboot was necessary. The previous year’s squad was let go of. Though the Sunrisers Hyderabad desperately tried to retain the 32-year-old who never got to don their jersey on the field, Delhi’s extra ‘Right to Match’ card and Rs.2.2 crore did the trick for them. The bucket had been entrusted in the hands of the diminutive JP.
One year later, Delhi’s foresight bore fruition — a semblance of fruition, actually. Both they and Duminy finished eighth. In different tables, though.
The win-loss record for the franchise this time around read 2-14 — with both their triumphs being recorded on Dubai soil — and they once again came last in the eight-member race for the best team at the event. Duminy, on the other hand, lived up to the attention that was lavished on him during the auction. Only seven batsmen were ahead of his tally of 414 runs in 14 matches.
The Delhi thinktank whirred to life for implementing another bout of reactive measures. Thirteen heads — including names such as Kevin Pietersen and Dinesh Karthi — rolled off the chopping block. Yuvraj Singh was roped in — quite unnecessarily, as they would find out later — for Rs.16 crore. Duminy — considering his soaring stock value — survived, and was appointed as the captain. Yet another thoroughly-wiped-clean slate had been put in place by Delhi for their 2015 campaign. The returns, once again, were minimal, but Duminy continued as usual. He raked up 414 runs at an average of 41.4 to finish eleventh on the run-accumulator list. Shreyas Iyer — his new assistant bucket-wielder — had taken the eighth place this time with 439 runs.
This year, though, Delhi’s re-chiselling of their squad and staff seems to be paying dividends. With Rahul Dravid now in their dugout and three successive wins under their belt — after their win against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday — after four years, Lady Luck doesn’t seem to be pursing her lips for the team.
Duminy is still in the thick of things though, sans his man-at-the-helm role that has now been relinquished to Zaheer Khan. His 31-ball 49 against Mumbai — during which he also became the 17th batsman to breach the 5000-run barrier — was a cornerstone of their success.
“I think it just comes down to the execution, something that we couldn’t really do at the beginning of this season. The guys today stood up,” said the left-hander.
If everbody does ‘execute’ well this year, and Duminy repeats what he’s done time and again in the past, maybe the latter may not need to run around with a bucket in his hands after all.