In Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, Delhi have won only two out of six home games so far. Their scores at the Arun Jaitley Stadium have made for a mixed reading — 162/8, 172 all out, 128/6, 188/6, 187/3 and 136/8. The Warner-led side, currently at the bottom of the standings with 10 points from 13 matches, will face Chennai Super Kings in their last game of the season at home on Saturday afternoon.
"Look, the pitches here in Delhi haven’t been great, to be totally honest. They are probably great if you have a different sort of setup for your team. If you have a lot of Indian top-order batters, then that wicket will suit the team. But that’s not the makeup of our squad. So, as we saw the other night, where we saw ourselves playing on a traditional, good playing wicket and the ball goes through nicely like it’s going nicely and the ball doesn’t really turn a lot."
"We then saw what can exactly happen from our batting-line up with overseas batters and Prithvi Shaw, which is our strength. But unfortunately, when we came here to Delhi, because of the amount of cricket played on this wicket block, it’s very dry, not much grass and exposes the set-up of our batting in particular."
"Hopefully, next season, we are going to have a very similar squad again and conditions will be more suitable to the make-up of our team. Hopefully, there will be more truer batting surfaces which will show the true, world-class batters that we do have on nice, traditional surfaces," said Watson in the pre-match press conference.
At the same time, Watson added that pitches in Delhi not being to their linking can’t be taken as a justification for the batting line-up not capitalising on the home advantage.
"That’s not an excuse for us not performing well; it’s just that it made it more difficult for us and our batters to be at their best. Hopefully, from one season to next, there will be better surfaces and big change out there as with the make-up of our team, it doesn’t make it really easy for us."
In a batting devoid of regular wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, Shaw was expected to lead the march for Delhi with the bat in IPL 2023, especially after registering some sterling performances in the 2022/23 domestic season.
But those glittering knocks didn’t translate in the initial stages as Shaw scored just 47 runs in six games, before being dropped from the playing XI. On May 17, brought back for the match against Punjab Kings at Dharamsala, Shaw scored a quick 54 on a good batting pitch as Delhi registered their first 200+ score of the season.
Watson was quick to admit that Shaw not being at his attacking best in starting part of IPL 2023 was one of the most upsetting things for Delhi.
"One of the most disappointing parts of this IPL season for the Delhi Capitals was Prithvi Shaw. I always have been a huge fan and love watching Prithvi bat. Like how he did the other night in Dharamshala, he’s just one of the most beautiful batters to watch and take down best bowling as well with the skill he’s got."
"Knowing that, we gave him a huge stretch at the start of the tournament to really find his feet and in the last couple of years, he’s been a little inconsistent. But what I saw from Prithvi missing a couple of games, it seemed to really centralise and really focus him on exactly what direction he wants to go."
"Because he’s so incredibly skilled as a young man with the bat in hand, he needs to bring every part of his game together. There’s no question with the skills he’s got and he should be dominating international cricket with it. But sometimes, it takes people a little bit longer to get their work out and navigate as consistently as possible with preparation, mindset and everything that goes with playing at the highest level,’ he elaborated.
Citing his knock at Dharamsala, Watson signed off by hoping Shaw learns from the initial setback of IPL 2023 and gets to regain his consistent run from the past as well as keep himself sorted in future.
"To see what Prithvi did, he certainly had the extra fire in his belly which we saw the other night and hopefully it was a setback from which he learnt and get to rearrange, and redirect certain things even within inside himself."
"Also, channel his thoughts to everything he does in life to produce what he did there on the ground and consistently do that like he did last few years ago, through the way he batted the other night."