Rishabh Pant is the right choice for Delhi Capitals captaincy role - Ponting

Capitals’ bowlers outperformed the batters in IPL 2022, says head coach Ricky Ponting.

Rishabh Pant and Ricky Ponting

Ricky Ponting refused to blame Capitals' defeat against Mumbai Indians on Rishabh Pant.   -  IPL

Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has backed Rishabh Pant to continue leading the team.

Pant’s captaincy has been under the scanner all season as the wicketkeeper made some dubious calls during IPL-15. On Saturday, in Capital’s must-win game against Mumbai Indians, a strategic blunder possibly cost the team a spot in the playoffs.

With Mumbai at 95 for three in 14.3 overs while chasing a target of 160, Pant made a strategic blunder as he refused to call for DRS after Tim David nicked the first ball of his innings. The on-field umpire hadn’t given it out. The blunder came back to haunt the Capitals. David slammed 34 runs off just 11 balls with the help of two boundaries and four sixes to take the game out of Capitals’ grasp.

“Absolutely, no doubt in my mind that Rishabh [is the right choice;] even in the last season he was the right choice for captain. Rishabh did a terrific job with the team after he took over from Shreyas [Iyer] after he injured his shoulders,” Ponting said during the press conference after Capitals lost by five wickets.

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“...he is just a young man and still learning captaincy. Being captain of a T20 team, especially in IPL, which is a high pressure tournament, is not easy thing to do and unfortunately, every single thing you do will be scrutinised. He certainly got my full backing.”

‘Gutted’

Ponting said he was “gutted” to see the match slip away but didn’t blame Pant for the loss.

“It is always hard to put a finger on one single aspect of the game. Top of the order our batting was poor, we were four down for 40, which is not the ideal way to start a T20 game, specially big games which you have to win,” he said.

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“Obviously, Tim David played well. He was probably out first ball but there are so many aspects of the game we will be disappointed with. The players need to learn from games like that. I feel pretty gutted that the game slipped through out of our hands, we didn’t close out the match in the last few overs.”

Reflecting on the season, Ponting felt the Capitals bowling group outperformed the inconsistent batting unit.

“If I look at our entire season, it’s pretty fair to say that our bowling group have probably done a better job on a whole than our batting group. Our batting group has been really inconsistent and probably haven’t scored the amount of runs that we should have scored.”

The Capitals squad had a tough season with several members of the franchise testing positive for COVID. Key players like pace spearhead Anrich Nortje and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh missed a few games as they were coming off serious injuries.

“I'm not making excuses, but we've had quite an interrupted season with Covid, injuries and other illnesses that we've had through our camp. So it's been one of those up-and-down and inconsistent seasons. We've all been delighted with Khaleel Ahmed, (Chetan) Sakariya in the games he played. Kuldeep Yadav has been one of the finds of the tournament. You always know what you're going to get with Axar Patel.

“Shardul (Thakur) had some really good games at the back end of the tournament as well. So, I think it's fair to say that on a whole, our bowling group probably did outperform our batting group,” Ponting said.

Rohit confident 'minor adjustment' can fix batting woes

Opener Rohit Sharma just needs to make minor adjustments to his batting to regain form, the Mumbai Indians captain said after his team finished last in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season.

Limited-overs stalwart Rohit managed only 248 runs from 14 games at an average of 19.14, failing to score a single fifty for the first time in his IPL career.

"A lot of things that I wanted to do didn't happen," said Rohit, India's captain, after Mumbai finished its campaign with a five-wicket victory against Capitals.

"But this has happened with me earlier as well, so it's not something I am going through for the first time. ... I need to take care of the mental aspect and think about how I can return to form and perform."

Rohit's struggles with the bat mirrored five-time champion Mumbai's disappointing campaign, in which IPL's most successful franchise effectively dropped out of the playoff race after eight successive losses.

"It was a bit disappointing season for us as we couldn't execute our plans at the start of the tournament," Rohit said. "In tournaments like the IPL, you have to build that momentum."

Rohit hopes to have addressed his batting issues before India hosts South Africa for a five-match Twenty20 series next month.

- REUTERS

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