Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has backed Rishabh Pant to continue leading the team.
Pant’s captaincy has been under the scanner all season as the wicketkeeper made some questionable phone calls during IPL-15. On Saturday, in Capital’s unmissable game against Mumbai Indians, a strategic blunder may have cost the team a spot in the playoffs.
With Mumbai on 95 for three in 14.3 overs chasing a 160 goal, Pant made a strategic blunder when he refused to call for DRS after Tim David stole the first pitch of his innings. The umpire on the field hadn’t issued it. The blunder came back to chase the Capitals. David hit 34 runs from just 11 balls using two boundaries and four sixes to take the game out of Capitals’ grasp.
“Absolutely, I have no doubt that Rishabh [is the right choice;] even in the last season he was the right choice as captain. Rishabh has done an amazing job with the team after he took over from Shreyas [Iyer] after injuring his shoulders,” Ponting said during the post-match press conference Capitals lost by five wickets†
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“…he is just a young man and still learning captaincy. Being captain of a T20 team especially in IPL which is a high pressure tournament is not an easy thing to do and unfortunately everything you do gets scrutinized He certainly had my full support.”
Ponting said he was “discovered” to watch the match slip, but he didn’t blame Pant for the loss.
“It’s always hard to put your finger on one aspect of the game. At the top of the table, our at bat was bad, we were four behind for 40, which isn’t the ideal way to start a T20 game, especially big games you need to win,” he said.
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“Obviously Tim David played well. He was probably out first, but there are so many aspects of the game that we will be disappointed with. The players have to learn from these kinds of matches. I feel pretty upset that the game slipped out of our hands, we didn’t finish the game in the last few overs.”
Looking back on the season, Ponting felt that the Capitals bowling group outperformed the inconsistent batting unit.
“Looking at our entire season, it’s fair to say that our bowling group has probably outperformed our batting group overall. Our strike group has been very inconsistent and probably didn’t score the number of runs we should have scored.”
The Capitals squad had a tough season with several members of the franchise testing positive for COVID. Key players such as tempo striker Anrich Nortje and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh missed a few games due to serious injuries.
“I’m not making any excuses, but we’ve had a pretty interrupted season with Covid, injuries and other illnesses we’ve had during our camp. So it’s one of those up-and-down and inconsistent seasons. We are all very happy with Khaleel Ahmed, (Chetan) Sakariya in the games he played. Kuldeep Yadav was one of the finds of the tournament. At Axar Patel you always know what you are getting.
“Shardul (Thakur) also had some really good games at the back of the tournament. So I think it’s fair to say that overall our bowling group outperformed our batting group,” Ponting said.
Rohit confident ‘minor tweak’ could solve batting woes
Opener Rohit Sharma only needs to make minor adjustments to his percussion to get back into shape, the Mumbai Indians captain said after his team finished last in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season.
Limited oversight, Rohit scored just 248 runs from 14 matches at an average of 19.14, not scoring 50 for the first time in his IPL career.
“A lot of things I wanted to do have not happened,” said India captain Rohit, after Mumbai concluded his campaign with a five-wicket win against Capitals.
“But this has happened to me before too, so it’s not something I’m experiencing for the first time. … I have to take care of the mental aspect and think about how I can get back in shape and perform.”
Rohit’s struggle with the bat reflected the disappointing campaign of five-time champions Mumbai, in which IPL’s most successful franchise effectively fell out of the play-off race after eight consecutive defeats.
“It was a bit of a disappointing season for us because we couldn’t execute our plans at the beginning of the tournament,” said Rohit. “In tournaments like the IPL you have to build that momentum.”
Rohit hopes to have his batting problems addressed before India hosts South Africa next month for a five-match Twenty20 series.