With the sudden exodus of big names like Gautam Gambhir, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers last season, it seemed the daredevilry had been taken out of Delhi's IPL team. The GMR-owned franchise sunk to a new low in IPL-4, finishing dead last on the points table. It couldn't get much worse than this for a side that had reached the lastfour stage of the IPL two years in a row in 2008 and 2009.
The owners realized it was time for an immediate overhaul. TA Sekar, the man who played a pivotal role in building the side in the first couple of years of its existence, was brought back into the Delhi Daredevils management fold and appointed team mentor for the forthcoming season. Coach Greg Shipperd also checked out and former Team India bowling coach and Shipperd's deputy Eric Simons was give the lead coaching role.
The new think-tank immediately went about changing the look of the side to bring back that lost spark. With the likes of Ashok Dinda, Matthew Wade and Andrew McDonald packed off, former England skipper Kevin Pietersen was brought on board from Royal Challengers Bangalore to add to the destructive batting firepower boasting Virender Sehwag and David Warner at the top.
This manic lineup of explosive hitters was tempered by the addition of the calming influence of Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who will be expected to provide much-needed tactical support on the field to Sehwag as well. Another new entry to watch out for is the exciting West Indies allrounder Andre Russell.
The man with the funky Mohican hairdo can bowl at a fair clip and is a fearful striker of the ball, capable of matching the likes of Kieron Pollard on his day. New Zealand's Ross Taylor too was a bargain buy after being picked up from Rajasthan Royals, and it's unfortunate that his Delhi teammate Morne Morkel has now put him out of action for at least four weeks with a broken bone in the forearm.
Taylor's teammate Doug Bracewell, one of the few genuine swing bowlers in international cricket at the moment, will add punch to the pace attack. The side looks well balanced in the pace bowling department with Umesh Yadav leading the attack accompanied by Varun Aaron. Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar will add experience to this lineup along with Morkel.
The one area of concern could be the spin bowling, especially if the track at their homeground in Ferozeshah Kotla is sluggish in nature. Roelof van der Merwe is their specialist spinner, but his addition will block a precious foreign players' berth. The job will fall on the shoulders of Shahbaz Nadeem and Pawan Negi, who are both fairly untested at this level.
IPL-5 will also provide another opportunity for young Delhi talent to make their mark. Leading the way is under-19 India captain Unmukt Chand, who went through a trial by fire in last year's edition. Unmukt quickly realised facing the likes of Lasith Malinga is a whole different cup of tea compared to domestic cricket.
Others like Yogesh Nagar got limited opportunities to shine but have enough talent to support the superstars in the side. Young Delhi wicketkeeper Punit Bisht finally joins the Daredevils on the back of his impressive Ranji season but will find it hard to displace the more experienced Naman Ojha in the side.
If the batsmen can put enough runs on the board, the absence of quality spinners will not be felt by the side. The side certainly looks stronger on paper and it's unlikely that they will find themselves at the bottom of the table again. However, it remains to be seen if the Daredevils can be contenders for the playoffs once again.