Ajit Agarkar feels that it’s high time that Delhi Capitals batsmen not named Shikhar Dhawan start contributing to the team, after the southpaw single-handedly carried the team in each of their last two games. Agarkar also believes that Delhi need to play their best XI and seal a Top two spot.
On Tuesday in Dubai, Delhi Capitals’ Shikhar Dhawan became the first batsman in IPL’s 13-year history to score back-to-back tons after smashing a flawless 61-ball 106 against a well-tuned Kings XI Punjab attack. However, despite the remarkable feat, Dhawan’s teammates gave him little reason to celebrate as in spite of the southpaw striking a bludgeoning ton, 164/5 was all the Capitals managed to put on the board, with the second highest individual score being 14. The KXIP encounter was the second instance in as many games of Dhawan carrying Delhi as versus CSK, Shreyas Iyer’s men almost lost the game despite a Dhawan ton, before being rescued by an Axar Patel cameo.
This no-show from Delhi batters minus Dhawan has become a cause for concern, and ahead of the team’s clash versus KKR on Saturday, Ajit Agarkar stated that it was high time that Dhawan received able support. Agarkar claimed that Dhawan cannot carry the side every single game and opined that DC will have a hard time winning the IPL if their batsmen continue to underperform.
“I don’t think Shikhar Dhawan is going to get a 50-ball 100 every game. I think it’s happened twice in a row, it’s happened a couple of times before as well. Not just the middle-order, but someone like a Prithvi Shaw as well. It’s just the approach - they seem to be playing on a different pitch to Dhawan,” Agarkar said on ESPN Cricinfo’s “T20 Time Out”.
“It can happen if you’re trying to build a partnership at times, but all of them seem to be struggling. So whether it was the form or the pitch, we’ll have to wait and see. But no doubt, if the other batsmen don’t score runs, Delhi will have a tough time winning the competition.”
Former Indian wicket-keeper Deep Dasgupta, meanwhile, reckoned Delhi could inject positivity by promoting someone like a Shimron Hetmyer. The southpaw boasts a SR of 150.74 this season, but has only faced 67 balls across seven innings.
“Maybe they can promote someone like a Hetmyer, given the kind of boundary-hitting form he is in. Maybe they can change up a few things because, as Ajit mentioned, you can’t expect Shikhar Dhawan to score a century everytime he walks out to bat.”
The batsmen let Delhi down versus KXIP, but what was evident from that encounter was also the importance of speedster Anrich Nortje. Iyer rested his talisman and brought in Australian Daniel Sams as replacement but Nortje’s absence was felt in the game as Punjab dusted off a target of 165 with an over to spare. Agarkar reckoned that Delhi should shy away from resting players at this stage in the tournament and should, instead, be looking to seal a Top 2 spot that will guarantee them two bites at the cherry.
“Bringing Nortje back into the XI is a no-brainer, if he is fit. You want to seal qualification. They are in the position where they can end up in the Top 2, which is a huge advantage as you get two opportunities to get into the final. If you’re a good team, you’ll invariably win one of those games. Perhaps it’s a little bit of fatigue or a niggle he is carrying - if that’s the case, it’s understandable.
“But if it’s just about giving somebody else game time, there might be other days to do it. I think they would want to get the job done and try and finish in the Top 2. They have a real opportunity to do that - you don’t want to see them wasting it after having such a good start to the season,” said the former Indian pacer.