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Blame for DC missing IPL playoffs is not just Pant’s fault but team management’s


After Delhi Capitals (DC) missed qualifying for the IPL 2022 playoff, there was a visual of the young captain Rishabh Pant walking off the field and seemingly at the receiving end of a talking-to from the coach Ricky Ponting. There was an impression that Ponting was unhappy with some of Pant’s field-placements during the concluding overs of the match.

In fact, during the post-match interview, the expert commentator asked what Ponting had told him in the tete-a-tete after the match. Pant, however, preferred to interpret it as a query on the pre-match strategy and answered that Ponting had asked him to keep things simple!

In the post-match analysis, the expert commentator and former India coach Ravi Shastri opined that it was a no-brainer that the DRS should have been taken.with five overs to go and DC still having both their DRS appeals in hand. Shastri did not even bother to state the obvious. Which was that it was worth taking a chance by going in for the DRS since David was the key player to get rid off.

During the live telecast of the match, there was a loud groan from the DC supporters in the crowd when the replay showed a spike on the Ultra Edge when the ball was adjacent to David’s bat. The expert commentators like Graeme Swann opined that Pant might not have had the confidence to take the DRS since he had earlier in the match put down a straightforward chance when the MI one-down batsman Donald Breavis he skied the ball.

Which begs the question of why Shardul Thakur did not insist on the DRS being taken if he was convinced that Tim David had edged the ball into the keeper’s gloves? As the bowler, Thakur would have had a frontal and much better view of the edge than the keeper Pant.

The DC captain’s failure to take the DRS is the focal point of the match, with expert commentators like Graeme Swann making the point that Pant lacked the coolness associated with the legendary former India wicket-keeper-captain Dhoni who continues to lead Chennai Super Kings in the IPL .

However, is it fair to compare the 24-year-old DC captain with the 40-year-old Dhoni who was older when he made his international debut than Pant is today? Doni has played 15 seasons of IPl. This is Pant’s sixth season.

Ponting has been quoted as saying that he had told Pant after the match that, “I was disappointed with what we served up tactically at the end of the game. The way we bowled and the fields that were set, considering the conditions and the type of players at the crease. I think we got a lot of these things wrong ”

The problem with what Ponting says he told Pat is that it makes sense if it comes from an expert commentator who is merely analysing the game. As an oh-so-experienced coach, surely Ponting could have provided the required guidance during the match. All Ponting had to do was to send a substitute fielder to Pant between overs or during the two time-outs to provide the required guidance and suggest the desired changes by way of bowling and field placements..

In a key game where the captain Pant was not just one of the main batsmen but also the keeper concentrating on every delivery, it is possible to make errors of judgment at critical moments. That pressure on the captain could and should have been relieved by the team-management sitting on the sidelines and in a better position to evaluate things dispassionately.

For instance, when MI bowled, the spinners were not able to get much purchase from the wicket and were being hammered by the DC batsmen. It was the MI pacers who put the DC batsmen under pressure.

Likewise, when MI was chasing the modest DC total of 159, the batsmen were under pressure from the four pacers Khaleel Ahmed, Nortje, Thakur and Mitchell Marsh. However, after the first six overs were bowled and the field restrictions relaxed, Marsh was promptly replaced with the spinners when he had just gone for 7 runs in a two-over spell. Marsh was not bowled for the rest of the match.

Surely, with the time-out of 150 seconds being taken after the first six overs, Ponting could have advised Pant to continue putting pressure on the MI batsmen through Marsh and Thakur while reserving Khaleel Ahmed and Nortje for the end overs. The spinners could have been introduced after Marsh had completed his spell of four overs.

Making Pant the fall guy doesn’t really serve any purpose even if Ponting subsequently added that the DC skipper was only 24 and would learn from his mistakes. Going by his comments at the end of the game, Ponting was aware that the young captain was under pressure. Surely, the coach could have relieved the skipper’s tension by providing the required guidance during the match either between overs or during the two time-outs.

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