Kolkata: Delhi Capitals, which had been the most improved team in the IPL over the last three seasons since they were rebranded in 2019, had acknowledged the role of head coach Ricky Ponting as a key factor. The former Australian captain and master batsman’s authoritative presence was sorely missed during their last match against Rajasthan Royals, which they lost narrowly despite a late blitz as skipper Rishabh Pant’s petulant behaviour over the no-ball claim left a bitter taste in the mouth.
It had been a rather up-and-down performance from Pant’s men so far, who are in seventh position with three wins and four losses, and look desperately for a turnaround in their fortunes as they start the second leg of campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday.
The ‘Punter,’ who rejoined training after completing his five-day hotel isolation after a family member had tested positive for Covid-19, admitted it had been a frustrating period to watch his boys slip to another defeat from the hotel room after Jos Buttler and Devutt Padikkal ran amok against the Delhi attack. “It was frustrating. I think I broke three or four remote controls and a few bottles of water might have got thrown into the walls and things like that. When you’re on the sidelines, being a coach and you can’t control what’s happening out in the middle, that’s hard enough, but when you’re not actually at the ground, it can get a little more frustrating,’’ he said.
Speaking to the Capitals media team, Ponting said: “I feel pretty relieved to be back outside again, actually after another five days locked in, and obviously missing the game,” he said. “Things didn’t go well in the game, we had a drama at the end. But, it’s nice to be back outside again,” he said.
Reflecting on the first half of the season, Ponting said: “I’ve said it a few times this year where there’s 36 or 37 overs of really good stuff, and we just let it slip for two or three overs. And that’s the difference in these games. We sort of gear ourselves to not overtrain in the first part of the season, try and build up along the way. But our performances have been win one, lose one, win one. So, we need to start getting that little bit of momentum.”
“There’s no doubt we’ve had it tougher than the other teams so far,” Ponting said in refernce to the Covid cases in their bio-bubble last week, which included two players Mitchell Marsh and Tim Seifert. “Hopefully, we throw that Covid stuff now and are on the other side. And it’s probably a really good definitive cut-off point - the halfway time of the season. We can reassess and readjust and get on with, hopefully, dominating the second half of this tournament.”
Watson seeks consistency
Strike a positive note, Delhi’s assistant coach and Ponting’s erstwhile teammate Shane Watson said: “For me, the most important thing is, us getting closer and closer and playing the perfect game of T20 cricket and just doing that over and over again. We had that a few times, we did that against Punjab Kings. We were good, we weren’t at our absolute best, but Punjab Kings on that day weren’t great. We also had some other performances where we got really close to that, and that’s all we can do.”
The former allrounder and one of the IPL greats said: “For us to get into the final, we have to be consistently playing at our best for the whole 40 overs, not just 35 or 36 overs.”
Catch the match
Delhi Capitals vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Start: 6 pm UAE