After three seasons of upward curve, Delhi Capitals are back in the bottom two of the IPL points table. Back because DC have bagged the wooden spoon more than any team – a record 4 times, and had it not been for Sunrisers Hyderabad’s equally dismal year, DC could have finished last again, instead of a 9th place finish. Despite the guidance of coach Ricky Ponting and director Sourav Ganguly – two of the greatest captains in the history of international cricket – DC failed to crack the code. The absence of Rishabh Pant, a muddled battling line-up and the knack of losing the match from a winning position hurt DC dearly, which reflects appropriately on their woeful campaign as the franchise failed to qualify for the IPL 2023 Playoffs.
As yet another season comes to an end, it’s time for introspection for all the six teams that didn’t qualify for the final four, including the Capitals. For starts, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar feels one of the reasons why DC were not up to the mark has to do with their coach Ponting. Taking nothing away from what the former Australia captain has achieved as an international cricketer and captain, Gavaskar reckons Ponting’s coaching inadvertently did DC more harm than good.
“So now it’s the playoffs, and there are four teams left standing to try and take the coveted IPL trophy home. Will we have a champion that has never won the trophy before, or is the experience of the big finals going to help the teams that have won it earlier? Those who have missed out will be doing post-mortems as to why they couldn’t progress and why they faltered. Ideally, such an analysis should be done after a few days have passed after the finals, for then it is more likely to be a reasoned one and not an emotional one,” he wrote in his column for Sportstar.
“Most importantly, it’s got to be an honest one, with no holds barred, for that’s the only way hard calls can be taken before the next auction comes up. The two bottom placed teams have plenty of food for thought. They were coached by two of the greatest batters in the history of the game, and yet their teams finished in the bottom half. There could be many reasons for this, but the main one is the aura that these two wonderful players have about them. What this does is keep players, especially domestic newcomers, shy of approaching these masters for any advice. These players have had such superior skills and a magnificent temperament that it’s not easy for them to think like those not as gifted as they were in both the technique and temperament departments”.
Gavaskar observed that under Ponting, there was little to no improvement in players. The likes of Sarfaraz Khan, Yash Dhull and Priyam Garg were hardly given opportunities while the curios case of Prithvi Shaw is yet to be examined entirely. The 23-year-old opener was all over the place, getting dropped for six matches before he finally managed a half-century in DC’s penultimate game of the season. Besides, by the time captain David Warner found his groove, DC were already playing catch-up. They could never recover from defeats in their first five games with Gavaskar highlighting the loopholes in DC’s facile approach.
“What might have looked like an easy-to-rectify problem during their playing days is not conveyed in the same facile way they solved it themselves. Often, the language is a barrier for a young, budding Indian player who comes from the interiors and may not be conversant in English to understand. That probably explains why players like Yash Dhull, Priyam Garg, and Sarfaraz Khan, to name just three, have made little or no progress. Prithvi Shaw has also not been able to come to terms with the delivery around the ribcage, and the result has been a shortage of runs from some of the most promising and prolific young players in the country,” Gavaskar mentioned.
“Then there was the stubborn, almost defiant refusal to promote the in-form Axar Patel up the batting order. It prompted Ravi Shastri, who had coached the Indian team until last year and seen the batting ability that Axar has, to question if there was something in the contract that said Patel wouldn’t bat above number 7 in the batting order”.