Zaheer Khan, Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2017, RPS, captain
Zaheer KhanIANS

Every time the Delhi Daredevils have played over the last couple of seasons, one thing has been constant – praise for Zaheer Khan and his captaincy.

Be it for his field placements, his decision-making on the pitch or his bowling efforts -- the "leading by example – thing, Zaheer has been the commentators' favourite positive talking point.

There is some merit, of course, for all the positivity surrounding Zaheer and his captaining skills, with the pacer oozing calm, even in tricky situations.

That is always a great trait to have for a captain, but that isn't the only thing that makes a good captain into a great one.

On Wednesday, when the Sunrisers Hyderabad hosted the Delhi Daredevils, Zaheer was pitted against an underrated captain, one who has already guided his team all the way to the IPL title last season.

And watching the two on the field, going about their business, making decisions and changing fields and bowlers, you could see who the better one is.

David Warner could turn out to be the captain that Australia never quite had, much like Shane Warne, who probably had the better nous for captaincy than Ricky Ponting.

While many will feel the same way about Zaheer – ah what a captain he could have been, has been the feeling amongst many – the decision-making and results suggest otherwise.

Last season, despite making a strong start, the Delhi Daredevils lost their way and eventually failed to make the playoffs.

IPL 2017 was supposed to be the season when the DD players, with an astute skipper at the helm, were supposed to come of age.

There have been signs of that, with the likes of Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer and Sam Billings all playing some decent knocks, but for the most part, the Delhi Daredevils have been let down by poor decision making, be that on the field or with team selections.

Shahbaz Nadeem, Zaheer Khan, Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2017, Kings XI Punjab
Dropping Shahbaz Nadeem has been a strange decision from Zaheer Khan and the Delhi Daredevils coaching staffIANS

In their last home game, the Delhi Daredevils puzzlingly dropped Shahbaz Nadeem, their most economical bowler, for Mohammed Shami. That decision backfired, and DD went on to lose to the Kolkata Knight Riders, who chased down a big score – KKR's captain Gautam Gambhir is another leader who deserves a lot more praise than he gets.

In their last game, on Wednesday, Nadeem was again left out, Jayant Yadav was brought in for Shami, and yet, he only bowled the two overs, both of them in the Powerplay.

Despite only conceding 16 runs in those two Powerplay overs, Jayant did not get a look-in again.

Instead, Zaheer went with Angelo Mathews, who conceded 16 runs in his first over, and then was given two more, with the Sri Lankan eventually going on to finish with figures of 3-0-41-0.

That wasn't the only time in the match when the use of Mathews was brought into question.

The major head-scratching decision by the Delhi Daredevils was made when Mathews was sent in to bat ahead of Chris Morris, when DD needed 87 runs from 41 balls, with the settled batsman Sanju Samson getting out.

Morris has been a revelation for the Delhi Daredevils this season, with bat and ball. His strike rate in IPL 2017 is a ridiculous 238.70, while he has taken 12 wickets with the ball as well, including four against SRH on Wednesday.

Chris Morris, Zaheer Khan, Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2017, Kings XI Punjab
Chris Morris should have been sent in ahead of Angelo Mathews in the game against SRHIANS

So, when you have a batsman who can annihilate a bowling attack – just ask the Rising Pune Supergiant – and is already full of confidence from a brilliant bowling effort, why would you send a player, who has only just come back from injury?

Only Zaheer Khan, Rahul Dravid, the mentor, and Paddy Upton, the coach, can answer that question.

Now, that batting order decision might have been made by Upton or Dravid, but, at the end of the day, in cricket, the buck stops with the captain. In football, the manager/head coach might be the one always under scrutiny, but in cricket, it is the skipper.

It is the captain's role to decide on the batting order and who goes when, depending on the situation, and Zaheer would have been sitting there in the dugout, making the decisions, or at least he should have been.

Unfortunately, for the Delhi Daredevils, that decision turned out to be the wrong one, and, as a result, another possible victory slipped out of their hands.

Exuding calm and bringing an air of "it's under control" alone doesn't make a great captain – you need to make the right decisions under pressure and, most importantly, inspire your team to victory.

Nobody remembers an almost-there captain; wins are what defines you, and Zaheer needs to do better, make better decisions and turn promise into victories, turn Delhi Daredevils from nearly-rans into contenders; get them into the playoffs, into the IPL 2017 final.

Do that, and then he will certainly be worthy of all the praise in the world.