Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting admitted that Tuesday’s loss was disappointing, but stressed that close games will benefit his side in the long run as it will give his players exposure to high-pressure situations. Ponting expressed that he was proud looking at the way his team fought.
Delhi Capitals suffered just their second defeat of IPL 2021 on Tuesday as they were beaten by the Royal Challengers Bangalore by one run in what was an absolute nail-biter. Chasing 172, Delhi looked like they had the game in the bag with them needing 14 off the final over, but a scratchy showing from skipper Rishabh Pant, who was unable to connect the ball cleanly, resulted in the side suffering a one-run loss.
Tuesday’s clash was the second consecutive instance of DC playing out a close game, having won the SRH encounter via a Super Over, and head coach Ricky Ponting felt that these tight contests will benefit the side. Speaking post the loss, Ponting said that close games will hold Delhi in good stead heading into the future as players tend to grow and evolve when they’re exposed to high-pressure situations.
“Our last game went to a Super Over and this game we lost by one run. Such matches can only hold you in good stead when the bigger matches come around at the back end,” Ponting said on Tuesday.
“We obviously are not thinking about the back end of the tournament now and we’ve got a tough run coming up but we’ve just got to take learnings from tonight. I’m sure Rishabh will learn a lot about himself. I think the players will learn that every run counts and every ball counts and take that forward. I reiterated to the boys in the dressing room just how important that one run could be. Our last two games have been decided by the narrowest of margins.”
Tuesday was particularly a forgettable night for skipper Rishabh Pant, who let his team down both with his captaincy and batting. A tactical blunder from Pant on the field let RCB get to 171, while with the bat, the 23-year-old managed just 58 runs off the 48 balls he faced, struggling to time the ball from start to finish. Ponting, however, lent his full support to the young DC skipper and asserted that games like yesterday will serve as a learning curve for the wicket-keeper batsman.
"I thought he [Pant] played really well tonight. He'll be disappointed. He wants to be in those situations, he wants to be the man in the end and win the games for DC. We didn't do that tonight, but we were very, very close.
"He's growing every day as a captain and that's the thing I'm most impressed about with Rishabh Pant over the last 6 or 8 months and he's growing as a person every day. And it's a part of my job to continue to work with him, to allow him to grow and just give him a few little pointers along the way when we can. Things that I might have seen in the game that I might talk to him to improve on and sharpen before the next game," said Ponting.
Delhi started off the season fielding two foreign seamers, but the last few games have seen the Capitals field just Kagiso Rabada, with both Chris Woakes and Anrich Nortje left to warm the bench. Nortje’s continued omission has particularly left many experts baffled, owing to the South African speedster being one of the breakthrough stars from IPL 2020. Ponting explained that DC will ‘definitely’ consider the option of fielding two overseas seamers in the future, but asserted that, as things stand, they are happy with the duo of Axar and Mishra operating together.
“With Ashwin out, Axar and Mishra are the best spinners in our squad so it’s a toss up as to whether we play two overseas pacers. We’ve got guys like Chris Woakes and Anrich Nortje - we think at some stage in the tournament, they can play a big part. I’m delighted with the squad of players we have, it actually makes my job as a coach tougher, knowing that you’ve got so much talent around in the group.”
Cricket aside, the Covid-19 situation in India is currently as grim as it can get. On Tuesday, the country registered over 3 lakh cases for a seventh day running and the cases spiralling out of control has seen several players exit the tournament to be with their families. DC themselves, in fact, lost a player in the form of R Ashwin, who said that he would be taking a break to spend time with his family in these testing times. Ponting expressed that the dire situation outside has affected his side and conceded that certain happenings have induced anxiety within the camp.
“It’s a really strange feeling amongst our team right now. We are very aware of what is happening outside and throughout India, at the moment. Our hearts go out to every person in the country that’s struggling with what’s happening with Covid in the Indian society. We’ve had one person leave as well, so it’s probably affecting us. We’re talking about it more than maybe most teams are.
“There have been other revelations as well, with our (Australian) government blocking flights from India. There’s no doubt that there have been a few distractions along the way, but the travel part (Australians) is only a small part of what we’re talking about and thinking about. On a daily basis, we’re thinking about what’s happening outside, and we understand how blessed we are to turn up and do what we did tonight. Hopefully there are a number of people in India who got some enjoyment out of watching a great game of IPL tonight.”
The Capitals have a quick turnaround, and will take on the Knight Riders tomorrow at the same venue.