Virender Sehwag, the Delhi Daredevils captain, has defended the decision to play three specialist fast bowlers and just one spinner during their qualifier against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday. Knight Riders beat Daredevils by 18 runs to make their first IPL final.
Daredevils opted for lone spinner Pawan Negi and sidelined the other left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem on a spinning pitch. Sehwag said he found it difficult to choose his bowling unit for the match, as all his bowlers were in good form. "Varun Aaron and Umesh Yadav were bowling brilliantly so I could not have dropped them. The bowlers have always performed for us and most of them have won Man-of-the-Match awards, including Pawan Negi and Shahbaz Nadeem," Sehwag said.
"It was a tough choice when it came to selecting the bowlers. We thought that the grass might help the pacers. In games like these, you need to back yourself in whatever decisions you make. But I don't think it was our day."
Sehwag attributed his side's loss to a poor batting display. "We didn't bat well. The target of 163 was very much achievable on this wicket. But we collapsed and lost two early wickets and it did not help us. We couldn't make it in the last few overs," he said. "We lost a couple of wickets up front but still we were in the game till the 15th over. Anything could have happened, but we stuck to our strength rather than making too many changes."
Mahela Jayawardene, the Daredevils batsman, said the decision to play just one spinner was the right one. "Yes (we played only one spinner). But we controlled things much better in the (first) 15 overs, which we bowled. That has been our strength.
"The wicket wasn't too slow (or) too spinner friendly. It was spinning a little bit, but when we were chasing, we saw it wasn't too hard to play the spinners."
Jayawardene conceded Daredevils made a tactical error by sending Negi in to bat before Ross Taylor, who came in at No.7, when the asking-rate was more than 14 an over. "We made a few mistakes, probably tactically we made a few mistakes as well, but we will learn from that," he said. "We were thinking (of playing) the left-handers we had. But it was bit too late (in the innings to do that). We should have sent the left-hander in much earlier than we did. Maybe (we should've sent him) in place of Venu (Venugopal Rao) so that Ross also could have had a bit more overs to bat."