IPL 2024: Has been a couple of challenging years for Ricky Ponting at Delhi Capitals, says Shane Watson

It hasn’t been a smooth sailing for Ricky Ponting, who’s been the head coach of the Delhi Capitals since 2018.

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) It hasn’t been a smooth sailing for Ricky Ponting, who’s been the head coach of the Delhi Capitals since 2018. Though DC reached the final in 2020 and made it to the playoffs of 2019 and 2021 editions, the franchise hasn’t been able to enter the knockouts in subsequent seasons.

This time, DC are at ninth place and have just a win over Chennai Super Kings to show. Ahead of their clash against Mumbai Indians on Sunday afternoon, Ponting’s former Australia team-mate Shane Watson, who worked as DC’s assistant coach in 2022 and 2023 season, admitted that it has been a challenging time for Ponting in the last few years, but backed him to force a turnaround in his side’s fortunes.

“It has been a couple of challenging years for Ricky Ponting at Delhi Capitals, for sure. But I am not sure if it will be his last year there. There is one thing which I know from a coaching perspective is, if your team doesn’t do well over a couple of years, then head coach will be the first person to be moved from the role. Ricky has had success in the start of his time with the Delhi Capitals, but it has been a more challenging time over the last couple of years.”

“But it is only the start of the tournament. The Delhi Capitals played amazingly well against CSK. They played as good a game of cricket as they possibly can, for me. The biggest challenge is for the Delhi Capitals to be able to repeat that consistently throughout this tournament.”

“There’s no reason why they can’t, and Ricky Ponting is one of the best leaders, and he certainly was the best leader in and around Australian cricket that I was involved in. He enhanced my cricket through the times that he captained me for a big part of my career. He’s been an inspirational leader and has been very much like that at the Delhi Capitals.”

“But at the end, he can’t bat or bowl for the Delhi Capitals players. When the team isn’t winning, then the head coach is the first person to come under the microscope. I know he will leave no stone unturned to get the best out of Delhi Capitals players and hopefully they work their way up in the table,” said Watson, an IPL expert with broadcasters JioCinema, in a select virtual media interaction.

On the other hand, MI also have their own issues to face ahead of their clash against DC. The five-time champions have been winless due to not clicking as a unit and making eyebrow-raising tactical errors.

Moreover, captain Hardik Pandya has been viciously booed and jeered by crowds in all three games so far. Watson advised him to block out the external noise and focus on getting his skillsets right under pressure situations.

“For Hardik, the one thing that he’s done so well throughout his career is been able to just shut out the noise, put his blinkers on, just put his headphones on and just focus on his ability to be able to execute his skill under immense pressure — and he’s done that for Mumbai Indians in the past, and for Gujarat Titans too. You silence your critics with performances and he’s got the platform to do that.”

“He is such an incredibly skilled cricketer and he’s a great tactician and a great leader. So, he just needs to shut out the noise that’s obviously all around. He does need to put his headphones on and not allow any of that noise that’s around the grounds to be able to penetrate his bubble. That’s when he’s at his best, that bubble is bulletproof,” he added.

The Royal Challengers Bengaluru also have their issues in a misfiring batting line-up and ahead of their game against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday evening, Watson called for Australia’s fast-bowling all-rounder Cameron Green to be given number three slot as well as be handed the new-ball to use his skills efficiently.

“The most important thing is he’s a number three batter. We saw that when he got the opportunity to bat at number three for the Mumbai Indians (last year). He’s a top-order T20 batter, and he’s got incredible skills, but he’s absolutely not a number five batter.”

“So, if RCB want to get the very best out of him, they need to just lock him in at number three. Over a period of a whole IPL tournament, he will definitely win some matches for the team. But just because he doesn’t score runs in one or two games, you can’t just shift him down the order to a position where he’s certainly not working.”

“That’s not his strength at all, batting through the middle overs right now. It will, in time, but right now, as a young top order batter, that’s where his skill lies. Same is with the ball – he’s a highly skilled new-ball bowler. He can swing the ball both ways and has got good pace. He’s also got good defensive skills, though he went for a few runs.”

“The biggest challenge for RCB is to get him engaged in the game more often – which can happen by making him bat at number three and giving him the brand new ball in the first six overs. But RCB, unfortunately, throughout their history of being in the IPL, have got more of a habit of not necessarily doing that,” concluded Watson.

–IANS

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