A consistent performer for Delhi Capitals in this edition of the IPL, despite their streak of losses, has been David Warner. Against Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday (April 20), Warner registered his fourth fifty-plus score in six games and while comparing this knock to his previous outings, there were a few contrasts. The most obvious one was that it finally came in a winning cause for the Capitals. The other major difference was his approach. All his previous 30-plus scores came at a strike rate of under 120 but in this game, Warner finished close to 140.
The main reason Warner was able strike at a quicker rate was that he capitalised on the powerplay, which in turn was possible as the Capitals did not lose wickets in a flurry at the start of their innings unlike some of their previous games. On a wicket that slowed down as the innings progressed, Warner scored 45 off 25 in the powerplay, with DC managing 61/1 in the first six.
“We didn’t lose three wickets in a row. There are going to be a lot of critics out there to suggest that I haven’t been batting the way I normally bat. But when you lose three wickets in a row in two overs, and I faced three balls, what can you do? You can’t really do anything. You have to have some sense of responsibility. Just like little Bangalore. You know (if) I get out, people would have criticised me getting out but that’s just the game, that’s how it is,” Warner said at the press conference when asked about the criticism he has faced over his strike rate.
“For us it’s about backing yourself and coming out and executing your skills. Today I felt like my match-ups were there and I’ll take the powerplay on. And we didn’t lose wickets in clumps in the first two overs. So that plays a big role as well. But for me I felt that I had my rhythm back again, I had a good couple of net sessions. I was probably a bit tentative losing a lot of wickets in the first couple of games but for me it’s about going out there and just playing like the way I do and the way that I know, and then it’s going to be better off for us and the team.”
A clinical performance with the ball, led by two-wicket hauls for Ishant Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav, helped the Capitals restrict the Knight Riders to 127 after a delayed start due to rain in Delhi. Comfortably placed in the chase at one point, the Capitals did lose wickets before scampering over the finish line in the final over with four wickets in hand.
“Chasing 128, that’s quite a low total, there can be…I wouldn’t say nerves, can be a bit scratchy,” said Warner. “Being 0-5, they (low-scorers) are games that are sometimes hard to win. But the way that our bowlers bowled today was amazing and absolutely exceptional, on that wicket. I didn’t feel like that wicket was a 130 wicket, it looked like a 155-165 kind of wicket. Look, we lost wickets again, too many consecutive – we have to work on that – but little things can happen when we are chasing small totals.”
About Ishant, Warner said was in contention to play the previous game at the Arun Jaitley stadium but missed out eventually as he was unwell. He was sick the last game. He was probably going to be playing the last game but he was sick. That was unfortunate, he had a bit of a fever. So he couldn’t play. After the first game that we played here and it swung and seamed, he was definitely going to be in contention to play.”
Warner also said they’ll have to re-look their bowling combination once Khaleel, recovering from a hamstring injury, is back in the mix. “The other thing you got to think about is Khaleel Ahmed as well. He is a very good new-ball bowler. With Khaleel out, Ishant obviously came in today and bowled exceptionally well. And then we have to have that good, hard think about when Khaleel is fit, what team we’re going to go with.
“The guys are bowling really well. Mukesh, he nailed his yorkers. To keep Andre Russell at bay – yeah, maybe get one or two (where) he hit off, but that’s fine – to keep him there and execute his yorkers, that’s skill. Credit to Ishant, the way he came out of his bed with his sickness, and he bowled exceptionally well. But that’s the depth we have with our bowling.”
Some of the Indian batters in the Capitals’ line-up have struggled against pace and short-pitched deliveries. Especially Prithvi Shaw, who has been dismissed thrice by pacers in the earlier matches and has managed only 47 runs in six matches at an average of 7.83. When asked if Warner had any discussions with his team-mates on how to counter pace and short-length deliveries, Warner replied in the negative and said it’s up to the individuals to level up the skills.
“To be honest, we don’t have too many discussions because you have to back your skill, I can’t tell people how to back. You have to actually work it out. If you’re going to face fast bowling, you’re going to come up against guys who are bowling 150 (kph), you have to have a technique and a method to score. If they’re going to keep coming at you and bowling at your rib cage, you have to find a way to score, and that’s the game.”
“If you keep looking to score off those lengths, and score one boundary, they are going to bowl the ball to your areas. In the nets it’s very difficult to practice. Even in Australia we don’t practice short balls. It’s something that I feel – if you’re practising the short ball all the time, in the game you start to be tentative. It’s a reaction skill. And you have to remember that the bowlers are allowed to bowl only one (short ball in an over) in this format. That’s a good thing for the batsmen,” said Warner.