Delhi Capitals embarks on its second season as a rebranded entity – literally and metaphorically – hoping to end the title drought after having come third last season. Addressing mediapersons on Saturday ahead of the team’s clash on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab, head coach Ricky Ponting said he had high expectations of the team this year but the coaching group wouldn’t apply any undue pressure on individuals to perform.
“We as a coaching group here in Delhi Capitals, we don’t put any kind of pressure on any of our guys. Certainly as a coaching group, we’re trying to take as much pressure off the players as we can,” he said.
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Ponting said he expected Rishabh Pant to have a big impact on the tournament this year.
“I’m sure Rishabh will be looking to have a big IPL tournament as he did last year, as he has done the last couple of years for the Capitals. But we as a group are more than one player. We want to have a really even contribution from all of our playing squad through the tournament. Just watching Rishabh train in the last week, I think he’s really turned the corner in the last week and I’m expecting him once again to have a really big impact on the tournament,” he said.
Shreyas Iyer embarks on his second season as the Capitals’ captain. He stressed on the important of team spirit in the success of the team.
'Like a family'
“No one complained at any one point of the tournament,” he said, reflecting on the last season.
“We were travelling regularly, we were practicing, training and none of them said they were getting tired and complacency wasn’t there in the team. That was the best part of the team and every individual took responsibility in their own way showcased their performance during the match. All these aspects really helped us come third. We were like a family last season. We stuck together in good and bad times, and we also celebrated our victories. All those were key aspects [to Capitals’ success].”
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A key decision taken in accordance with the team ethos was not to engage in Mankading. Ponting said he understands why R. Ashwin did it last year – playing for Kings XI Punjab, he ran out Jos Buttler - but clarified that the team wasn’t going to utilise this mode of dismissal.
“This topic hit the news probably about a month ago. It wasn’t long before I left Australia. I actually gave Ash a call that night to give my points of view across. Since I’ve been here I’ve actually done a podcast with him and talked about a lot of different scenarios and situations. I think he’s pretty clear with the way that we want to go about playing our cricket here at Delhi Capitals.
“When that happened last year, the first thing I did as a coach was I sat down with the players, we actually talked about it, the way that we wanted to go about our cricket, and it was decided then – not by me, it was decided by the whole group – that we didn’t want to play that way. I understand why Ash did it last season, but also I think he’s got a good understanding about the way we want to play our cricket here at Delhi,” Ponting explained.
Assistance for seamers
Ponting felt the pitches would assist the seamers in the early part of the tournament, but with the IPL being held in just three venues, they may wear out towards the latter part and assist spin.
“From what we’ve seen, I think the conditions might change quite a bit through the tournament, with only the three venues being used [and] 24 games being played [on them]. Speaking to the groundsman (in Dubai), he says only four wickets are going to be used. The ground where we trained a couple of days ago, there was a lot of grass on the pitch. By the time the game comes around tomorrow, there might be a bit of the grass cut off.
“I think in the initial part of the tournament, we might see the seam bowlers having a little bit of an impact. And I think as the tournament goes on, the wickets will slow down and probably start to spin a little bit more. That’s been our reading on the conditions so far. We’ll get a better idea once we get on the pitch tomorrow, but certainly I’m expecting in the early part of the tournament there won’t be much spin on offer, at least in Dubai anyway,” he said.
Although the ban on the usage of saliva wouldn’t matter very much in a T20 contest, Ponting said he and his team needed clarity on whether sweat would be allowed.
“We’re having a health and safety meeting this afternoon. Our doctor and our head physio are talking to us about a lot of these protocols in place. A lot of these things will just end up being habits. It’s something we have to be very conscious of, because I know there are quite hefty fines if a player does it more than two or three times. We’re looking for a bit of clarity – is sweat allowed for instance. We’ll be briefed today and once the player starts we’re very aware of what they can or can’t do.”