Ricky Ponting, head coach of Delhi Capitals, voiced his surprise over the pitch at Feroz Shah Kotla after his team was beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad by five wickets on Thursday. Batting first, Delhi posted a lowly 129/8 in 20 overs as batsmen struggled to time the ball on the sluggish surface. SRH’s bowlers, on the other hand, exploited the conditions well and never allowed the game to slip away.
However, Ponting revealed that before the match he was under the impression that the pitch would suit stroke-making after groundsman deemed it as the best-laid surface among the three games played in the city so far.
“The wicket surprised us a lot. Talking to the groundsman before the game, he expected it to be the best pitch among the three games played so far. But it was the worst, you saw how little it was and how slow it was,” said Ponting after the match.
Admitting that the Capitals had got it wrong in two out of the three matches at home, Ponting did have a word of praise for Hyderabad’s bowlers.
“That wicket suited SRH and they bowled smartly on it. Nabi bowled well. Their skillful bowlers adapted well and used the knuckleballs and slower balls to good effect. We needed to get off to a good start and unfortunately, we didn’t get it today,” Ponting said before adding, “We have some work to do. This is our home ground and we need to learn how to play in these conditions better than our opposition. In two out of three games so far, the opposition has played these conditions better than us. So we definitely have to improve there.”
Pitches across the country are expected to slow down as the IPL progresses and Ponting indicated that changes in team selections could occur based on it. “If the wickets are going to be like this then we need to think about our team selections as well. Maybe our bowlers weren’t best suited to that wicket today but as I said it wasn’t what we expected, it wasn’t what the groundsman told us it would be. So we are as surprised as anyone would be,” he explained.
Criticising some of the shot selection by Delhi’s batsmen, the 42-year-old said, “Right from the start, Prithvi Shaw didn’t play a great shot, considering how low the ball was bouncing. Some of the senior players probably did not bat long enough into the innings to let us post a total that was defendable. 130 was short of what were expecting. We expected to get 160-165 on this surface but today we came up short. We need to talk about that and find out a way,” he stated.
However, he was happy with the bowlers as they managed to drag the game till the 19th over. “I thought they bowled reasonably well. They probably found themselves in a situation where they had to attack and take wickets and also be conscious of the runs that were going for. I can’t blame the bowlers for this, we simply did not get enough runs batting first,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nabi who had earlier earned praise from Ponting reflected on his performance and said, “I do nothing different. I play my natural cricket. It is just that the conditions are different, so I adjust to the conditions as soon as possible.”