Dubai: Delhi Capitals will take part in their first-ever final of the Indian Premier League (IPL), they will be aiming to play their ‘best game’ in the decider accordingly to head coach Ricky Ponting. Having lost all three encounters against four-time champions Mumbai Indians this season, the Delhi Capitals go into the final showdown as the underdogs on Tuesday (November 10), but Ponting believes his team has the ability to end the tournament on a high.
Speaking ahead of the final, Ponting said, “I had pretty high expectations coming here (UAE). I knew we had put a really good squad of players together. We had a great start, but things got a little bit shaky towards the back-end, but the boys have managed to play two really good games out of their last three, and hopefully we can play our best game in the final.”
“Looking back, yeah it’s been a good season, but we still haven’t won anything yet – and that’s what we are here for – we are here to win the IPL, and we’ll give it our best shot,” he added.
Reflecting on the season where his team went through several ups and downs but still managed to finish second on the league table, Ponting added, “Yeah, it was a little bit frustrating because up until that point (four consecutive losses), we had played some very good cricket and we were arguably the best team in the tournament.”
“But I think some of the boys got a little bit complacent and it was at that stage of the tournament where things were starting to get a little bit tough for everybody, but to their credit they found a way to fight back and played really well in a must-win game against RCB, and yesterday (vs SRH) was one of our best performances as well – particularly with the bat. I think our best cricket is still yet to come,” he further added.
Ponting sent fellow Australian Marcus Stoinis up the order against SRH in Qualifier 2, a move that worked for his team, and the Australian veteran believes Stoinis provided his team with a ‘presence in the powerplay overs’. He said, “The way our team balances worked out in the first part of the tournament with Prithvi and Jinks both being there, made it difficult to get Stoinis up the order. But every time he (Stoinis) has been given an opportunity in the tournament, especially if he went in with 10 or 12 overs to go, he played really well.”
“He opens in the BigBash, and I’ve seen some amazing innings from him back in Australia at the top of the order. I think he’s vastly improved in the past 12 months and we are all starting to see how good he can be with the bat and the bowl and even in the field.”
“With him up the order, it was a much-needed presence in the powerplay overs, and that helped us as well. The SRH bowlers knew that if they missed their mark, he (Stoinis) would not let the opportunity to score go. And Shikhi (Dhawan) has probably had his best season ever in the IPL this time, and these are good signs for us. And we still haven’t got the best out of Rishabh in this tournament – so if he happens to fire in the final, I think we’re capable of making a really big score,” added the 45-year-old.
Asked about what he will be telling the team ahead of the final, Ponting said he would want them to enjoy the moment and embrace the pressure. “Just enjoying it for what it is. It’s not an easy thing to do to get into the IPL final – that’s what I told the boys last night. There are people who have played a lot of cricket but never made to one IPL final, but thankfully I’ve coached one before and was part of a team that won.”
“So I know what it is like to be there, but the most important thing in these big games is to not try to hide away and say it’s just another game when actually it’s not – it’s got more to it. You’re actually better off enjoying it and trying to embrace the extra nerve that comes with a final,” expressed Ponting.
Adding that his team will be relaxed before the big game, Ponting said, “We deserve to be in the final, and all we’ve done is given ourselves the right to play the final, and now we’ve got to go out and earn the right to win the final. So things will be pretty much the same – we’ll just do our meetings the same way and will be nice and relaxed and chill tomorrow, and when we get to the ground, we’ll put our game faces on and hopefully go on to play well.”
Ponting’s Delhi Capitals will be hoping to be fourth time lucky against Mumbai this season, and the Aussie legend believes his team has the firepower to do so. “We’ve got enough firepower (to beat Mumbai). If they will be sitting back and thinking if there’s a team they wouldn’t want to play, it’ll be us. But it’s about us – it’s about how we turn up, how we play, as simple as that.”
“We’ve been long way from our best in the games we’ve played against Mumbai so far, and once we sit down today and try to address some of the areas that we haven’t played well against them – our powerplay batting, our death bowling – if we rectify those things and play somewhere near our best then absolutely I’ve got no doubt that we’ll win,” he said.
“The other thing about Mumbai is that they’ve played some pretty fearless cricket, some high-risk cricket certainly in the way they’ve batted. We know they rely on Trent Boult with the new bowl to take wickets for them – so if we can get that part right, and if they just have a few things go against them, and we execute and put them under pressure, then I’m sure the result can change,” he added.
Also commenting on what he will be telling a young captain like Shreyas Iyer, who will be leading the side in one of the biggest matches of his career, Ponting said, “My job as a coach is to make his job as easy as possible. So we’ll go through our meetings tonight, and we’ll get all the planning and preparations done. We’ll try to keep everything as simple as we can.”
“The thing with him is that he’s someone who doesn’t like an overload of information as well – he’s better off if you keep feeding him some drip-feeding him some little pieces of advice on the way. So we’ll give him the information tonight, and I’ll just ask him to not even think about the game tonight until he has to do it tomorrow.”
“So far what he’s done on the field has been outstanding, and when I look at how young he is as a captain and the results he has been able to achieve for this franchise over the last two years – he’s been outstanding. We’ll try to keep things simple for him and keep our fingers crossed, and hope for things to fall into place tomorrow,” Ponting signed off.