Andre Russell will be playing high on the minds of the Delhi Capitals, just like any other team, when captain Ricky Ponting says that his team “need to make sure Kolkata Knight Riders star players don’t get away from us (Delhi Capitals)”.
Delhi Capitals will take on Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens today (Friday).
With three wins and three losses in their first six matches, JSW and GMR co-owned franchise, Delhi Capitals, have had an inconsistent start to the IPL season, but their Head Coach Ricky Ponting believes that his team is in the right frame of mind to perform in the upcoming matches. The legendary Australian spoke to the media ahead of the match against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
Going into the game, the Delhi team have their share of injury worries ahead of the crucial tie. “Harshal Patel has been ruled out of the tournament as he suffered a fracture to his right hand in the game against Kings XI Punjab. It took us a few days to get to the bottom of it as we got done some x-rays done. Hence we have had a few players on trials today. Manjot Kalra also has a slight niggle so we will be accessing him ahead of tomorrow’s game,” said Ponting
Analysing Prithvi Shaw’s performance so far for the Delhi Capitals, Ponting said, “Prithvi is a player I have seen develop a lot in front of me. We did take a risk last season in the IPL Auction when we bought him, but what I saw last season in training and then in the IPL, was great to see. He has always looked like he is ready to play and has shown glimpses of his brilliance in this tournament as well, and I was really heart-broken for him when he couldn’t get the hundred in Mohali. So far he has got off to some good starts this year, but I would want to see him bat deeper into the innings. But nonetheless, he’s developing well, he is learning more every day and learning more about his batting, and if he continues to learn, he will be one of the leading run-scorers this tournament.”
Delhi Capitals had hosted KKR in their last meeting of the IPL 2019, where hosts had prevailed in the exciting Super Over with Kagisho Rabada delivering the victory punch. Ponting believes that the win in Delhi will give his side a psychological edge. “When you’re playing a team twice in a tournament, it’s always nice to win the first game against them. We understand that they are a very, very good team and we know that they rely on couple of their stars to get them over the line more often than not. So we need to make sure that those players don’t get away from us tomorrow. Andre Russell has been outstanding, so we need to be on our toes and especially in his case because he took the game away from us last time in Delhi as well. We are coming off a win, and the guys have had a couple of days’ rest here in Kolkata, so the boys are pretty refreshed. We will go into tomorrow’s game in the right frame of mind and with confidence of giving tough competition to the home side, and winning.”
The 44-year-old Australian legend also spoke about the pitch at the Eden Gardens, “We have seen a little bit of grass on this wicket so we might play with all the seamers in Rabada, Boult, Ishant and Morris. But we also have some great spinners in Mishra, Axar, Lamichanne. So I feel we are very well equipped with dealing with the conditions. It’s a pretty good wicket and the conditions are always great for cricket, so I am looking forward to the boys making the most of them tomorrow.”
While counting the positives for his team, Ponting dismissed the concern about his team’s frequent batting collapses. “I am not really worried about the collapses if it means that we secure the win early. But the defeat to Kings XI was something that I am definitely worried about. But the thing that I did not mind about the RCB game was that the boys were looking to finish the match early and taking the challenge on. And I like that mind-set, because when it comes to the big games, you need to have that mind-set that you need to get across the line. The batting group are aware of the collapses, we just need to make sure that we do not lose the matches in this process,” he said.
Asked whether Delhi Capitals is a team led completely by young captain Shreyas Iyer, or whether the senior players and coaching staff play a major role in building the team, Ricky said, “It is actually both. It is 100% Shreyas Iyer’s team, he is the captain of our team. And as we know with captains of any team, once the game starts, the captain is also the coach. So it is my job and the rest of the coaches’ job that we make sure that we are making his job as easy as possible. He is a terrific, determined young man. He is developing his leadership very well. He has been here for a very short time as captain, but he has captained Mumbai this year, and India A as well. It is definitely a high-pressure job and environment but I am very happy with the way he has taken the responsibility.”
The coach also hailed young Kagiso Rabada for his exceptional show with the ball. “Kagiso is an extremely determined man. He is bowling well, and is still the leading wicket-taker which is something we are very proud of. He bowled beautifully in Bengaluru as well, and that Super Over against KKR in Delhi was exceptional. Look, his performances prove exactly why the owners pay the huge money for the overseas’ players, and he has been able to prove his worth yet again. I am really happy with how he has bowled over the course of the tournament so far.”
The corresponding fixture last season saw KKR produce a stunning all-round display as they beat Delhi by 71 runs at the Eden Gardens. Batting first, KKR ended up with a score of 200/9 in their 20 overs as Nitish Rana (59 off 35), Andre Russell (41 off 12) and Robin Uthappa (35 off 19) powered them to a huge score. In reply, Delhi lost three quick wickets but Glenn Maxwell’s 47 off 22 and Rishabh Pant’s 43 off 26 gave them some momentum. However, KKR’s Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav took 3 wickets each to restrict Delhi to a low total of 129 all out in just 14.2 overs.
The two teams have faced each other on 24 occasions, with Kolkata Knight Riders having won 13 matches while Delhi registered their 10th win over the home side when they won the match in Super Over earlier in the season in New Delhi. One match between the two teams has ended in a No-Result.