IPL 2024: In Rishabh Pant’s absence, Axar Patel to lead DC in important clash against RCB

Bengaluru, May 11 (IANS) In the absence of designated skipper Rishabh Pant who is suspended for a match for maintaining a slow-over rate, Delhi Capitals’ head coach Ricky Ponting said left-arm spin all-rounder Axar Patel will be leading the side in their important Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 clash with Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.

“Axar Patel will be our captain tomorrow. He’s obviously been vice-captain of this franchise now for the last couple of seasons. Obviously, very experienced IPL player, an experienced international player, a very sensible guy, understands the game really well. He’s really excited, to be honest,” said Ponting in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

Pant will miss DC’s crucial clash against RCB after being handed a one-match suspension for his side’s third slow over-rate offence in the tournament, recorded during their 21-run win over Rajasthan Royals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on May 7.

Ahead of the last over of RR’s innings, DC were found ten minutes short on the innings timer, which meant they could field only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle as per the in-game slow over-rate penalty. Apart from the suspension under the IPL Code of Conduct for over-rate offences, Pant was fined INR 30 lakh.

“We started talking about it a couple of days ago when there was a possibility that Rishabh might be banned, so he’s got his head around it, we’ve done our bowlers’ meetings today. He’ll catch up with all the guys tonight, go through all the plans, and make sure he’s ready to lead the team well tomorrow.”

“What I know about him is, you’ve only got to watch the way he goes about his cricket to understand that he is a sensible guy that’s always involved and in tune with the game, so I’m sure he’ll lead the team really well tomorrow,” added Ponting.

DC had appealed against Pant’s suspension, citing the 13 sixes hit by RR in their innings, time taken by Sanju Samson in a dramatic catch appeal, and bowlers’ bowling wides. But they were unable to provide any exact statistical information to show that extra time was consumed by all the above-mentioned events.

“As a team, we’ve obviously known for six, seven, eight games now that he’s (Pant) been on the two strikes, so there was a chance. We could have actually stood him down from the captaincy to potentially stop this happening, but at the end of the day, like it or not, it’s the captain’s responsibility – the time that’s taken out on the field.”

“He hasn’t got full control over everything and I think, circumstantially, he was probably a little unlucky in the last game where going into Khaleel’s last over, the over that Khaleel bowled the four wides in, at that stage of the game we were only three minutes behind.”

“So if Khaleel bowls a regulation over there without the extra balls and then Kuldeep bowls the next over and gets a wicket like he did, we would have got all of our time back. So the fact that Khaleel’s over went for nine minutes put us further behind and then, that late in the game, there’s no way you can drag your time back,” reflected Ponting.

Pant’s absence for Sunday’s game leaves a big gap in their middle-order batting order, as DC now need to figure out who steps up in the absence of their leading run-getter in IPL 2024.

“Once the game is started and the innings are started, when you get behind at the halfway mark, 10-over mark – if you’re four or five minutes down in a tight game, you’re never going to pick your time up, and that’s one thing we’ve been really conscious of talking to all the boys about.”

“It is what it is for us now. Rishabh’s not there, one of the best players in this particular IPL, I think our leading run-scorer, to have him not there is a loss for us, but it’s also a great challenge for everybody else.”

“Knowing that our captain is not there, our rock in the middle order is not there, but it presents an opportunity to somebody and it makes the other guys that are in the team now have to work that little bit harder to make sure they get the job and the result done for the team.”

Ponting also gave an update on veteran opener David Warner’s fitness, who’s recovering from a finger injury suffered while batting against Lucknow Super Giants last month. “He trained really strongly yesterday, he’ll be out hitting balls in the middle now, so he’ll be doing some more batting today. Hopefully, he’s available for selection for tomorrow.”

DC are placed fifth in the points table with 12 points in 12 matches with a net run-rate of -0.316, while RCB are on a four-match winning streak. They are among the eight teams in consideration for the playoffs, for which DC need to win their two remaining league games.

“They’re all tough games in the IPL. If you wind the clock back two weeks, RCB weren’t playing anywhere near their best. And, now, they probably played as well as anybody in the tournament.”

“I’ll put a case forward as well to say that what we’ve done as a team in the last seven games has been as impressive as anyone in the tournament. We’ve won five of our last seven, and we’ve made some huge scores along the way.”

“There are no excuses from us tomorrow, regardless of Pant not being in the lineup. If we turn up and play our best game, then I know that the Delhi Capitals will be very hard to beat tomorrow,” concluded Ponting.



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