Ricky Ponting: Delhi Capitals ready to bounce back after ‘wake-up call’

Kagiso Rabada’s absence can be covered quite well, says the Delhi Capitals head coach.

Delhi Capitals has reached the IPL playoffs for the first time since 2012.   -  PTI

Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s absence from the rest of the Indian Premier League season is a “massive blow” for Delhi Capitals but the void can be filled by others in the squad, according to head coach Ricky Ponting.

Rabada was on Friday ruled out of the rest of the league as he was advised by Cricket South Africa to return home and not risk aggravating his back injury with the Cricket World Cup starting in four weeks' time. Rabada is the current Purple Cap holder with 25 wickets.

For Capitals’ contest against Rajasthan Royals at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Saturday, Trent Boult is likely to retain his place having replaced Rabada in Capital’s last contest against Chennai Super Kings earlier this week.

Commenting on Rabada’s exit, Ponting said, “It was a decision that was taken out of our hands. It was a decision that Cricket South Africa made — [Rabada] had complained of a sore lower back in the last couple of games. After our last home game here, he said that it was a little bit worse. Precautions [had] to be [taken by] Cricket South Africa to make sure he is fit and healthy for the World Cup. So, it was out of our hands but it’s a massive loss obviously, but it’s a loss that we think we can cover. We have got someone like Trent Boult who is also a world-class fast bowler that had a terrific season for the [Delhi] Daredevils last year. Him coming back into the side now, we can cover the loss of Rabada quite well.”

Read: Rahane to lead Rajasthan Royals against Capitals

Ponting admitted, however, that Boult was rusty. Against Super Kings, he conceded 37 runs from four wicketless overs.

“He’s only played one game in five weeks, so it’s a little bit hard. That’s what we expect. We expect guys that haven’t played this format of the game for a while; their skills are going to be a little bit rusty. Saying that, his first two overs the other night (against Super Kings) were outstanding. He bowled first two overs for two runs; he went past the outside edge of Watson [and] du Plessis a few times. So, his new-ball skills are really good and then just the death bowling is a little bit off. You only have to be a little bit off in this game when you’re bowling to guys like Dhoni to get found out. We’ve got a training day today, we’re trying to hone in some of those skills for Trent, and we hope he is better equipped for the next game,” Ponting said.

Without Rabada, other bowlers will have to step up for effective death bowling in the rest of the league, felt Ponting.

“Rabada has kept the ship up a lot with his death bowling through this tournament. So that’s where we have to find the guys now to step in, there are going to be opportunities for others — whether it’s Trent, whether it’s [Chris] Morris, whether it’s Ishant [Sharma], or whether it’s one of our spinners who can bowl some good overs for us at the death. It’s a great skill in the game, to have very good death bowlers in the team is obviously a great skill and we need to make sue we’ve got those. We need to make sure that their skills are up to scratch in the remaining few games that we have.”

Capitals will bounce back after its 80-run defeat to Super Kings, declared Ponting.

“We’ve played some excellent cricket through the first five or six weeks of the tournament. The boys are very aware of what they are capable of. I actually spoke to the boys after the game the other night. And if you want to lose a game in the tournament, it’s about this time. We’ve qualified; a loss like that is a bit of a wake-up call, a bit of a reminder to the team that if you take your eye off the little things in the game, the basics of the game, then you can lose games quite quickly. As far as the timing of it is concerned, it’s really good. I think the boys will bounce back pretty strongly tomorrow,” Ponting said.

Read: CSA calls back Rabada, to miss remainder of IPL

The loss to Super Kings notwithstanding, Capitals has enjoyed a fairly successful season, having made it to the Playoffs for the first time since 2012. Much of the credit should go to Shreyas Iyer for his captaincy, felt Ponting.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about Sourav [Ganguly], and it’s not about management. It’s about Shreyas and his players. Shreyas has done a terrific job. He was new into the job halfway through last season. He coped well last year, but I can just see on a daily basis that he’s growing as a person as well. He’s much happier in front of the media now, he’s much happier talking in front of the boys now than he was [before]. You can really see that the leadership side of things is starting to grow. He’s a lot happier about being a leader of Delhi Capitals which is a great sign for us, so we need that to be the case. He’s had a chance to captain Mumbai this season. He’s captained India A, he’s a more experienced and a more rounded person in many ways than this time last year. And as a result of that, he’s been leading our team a lot better than he might have last year,” Ponting said.

Not only has he excelled in captaincy, he has also excelled with the bat. Shreyas is Capitals’ second highest run-getter so far, with 427 runs. In the third position is the swashbuckling Rishabh Pant. Pant may have got out a few times this season due to poor shot-selection, but Ponting expressed faith in him.

“One thing I know about Rishabh is that he has to play with complete freedom [to succeed]. Sometimes, players like him and players like Adam Gilchrist – sometimes you have to take a little bit of bad. When they play well, you win and sometimes they are going to make mistakes as well. Rishabh – I’m very confident that he will finish this tournament on a very strong note,” Ponting said.

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