The Mumbai Indians have been the most formidable side in IPL 2020, but Ricky Ponting believes the one team they wouldn't have liked to face in the final are the Delhi Capitals, the side he is the head coach of.
The two sides topped the league stage of this IPL and will meet on Tuesday's final, with Mumbai having beaten the Capitals in both league games as well as Qualifier 1. But Ponting held that his team had been "a long way" below their best in their games against Mumbai this year, and the title clash was a good opportunity to rectify that.
"We've got enough firepower. I think if there's a team Mumbai wouldn't want to play, it would be us," Ponting said on Monday, the eve of the final. "But it's about us, about how we turn up and how we play. We've been a long way below our best in the games that we've played against Mumbai so far. As I said, it's been our powerplay batting. It's probably been our death bowling against them a couple of times when they got away from us. If we rectify those things and play somewhere near our best, then absolutely I've got no doubt at all that we can win.
"Mumbai have played a pretty fearless brand of cricket all the way through. They've played pretty high-risk sort of cricket, certainly the way that they have batted. We know that they rely on Trent Boult with the new ball to take early wickets for them, so if we can get that part of it right, and if they just have a few little things go against them and we execute and put them under pressure, then I'm sure the result can change."
"I think we lost a wicket in the first over in some eight or nine games in the tournament, which is unbelievable really, when you think of the quality that we've got at the top of the order."RICKY PONTING
Ponting identified batting in the powerplay as one of the problem areas for the Capitals, and said their tactics in Qualifier 2, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad when Marcus Stoinis was pushed up to open, was based largely on providing the Capitals with a better start. The Capitals have been particularly vulnerable at the top of the order this IPL despite Shikhar Dhawan's good form: they have lost nine wickets in the first over so far, with no other team losing more than three across the tournament. Stoinis' promotion worked for them, and the Capitals had their best powerplay of the season, with 65 for no loss.
"Marcus has been dying for an opportunity further up the order," Ponting said. "Prithvi (Shaw) and Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) both being there made it difficult to get him up the order. But every time he'd been given an opportunity in the tournament, especially when he went in with 10-12 overs to go, he played really well. He opens in the Big Bash, I've seen him do some amazing things back in Australia at the top of the order. I think he's a vastly improved player than he was 12 months ago. I think we're all starting to see just how good he can be with both bat and ball. And he's very good in the field as well.
"If you look at a weakness in our cricket through this tournament it has been our batting powerplays. I think we lost a wicket in the first over in some eight or nine games in the tournament, which is unbelievable really, when you think of the quality that we've got at the top of the order. We wanted to try and rectify that. If Marcus is standing at one end and the bowlers' running in, they know that if they miss by a small margin, being as big and strong as he is, he's going to put it away. Shikhar's probably had his best season ever in his 13th year. So yeah, some really good signs for us. And we probably still haven't got the best out of Rishabh (Pant) in the tournament. If he happens to fire in the final, I think we're capable of making a really big score."
Ponting admitted he had "high expectations'" off his team going into the IPL given the squad the Capitals had, and also said that rather than treating the final as "just another game" as teams are wont to repeat for every big match, he had asked the Capitals to embrace the occasion and the nerves that go with it.
"It's not an easy thing to do, making an IPL final. I said that to the boys last night," he said. "There'll be a lot of guys that have played a lot of cricket, but have never made one [IPL final]. I think the most important thing with big games like this is, don't try and hide away and say 'it's just another game'. Because it's not. You're better off enjoying it, trying to embrace the extra nerves and everything that comes with a final. But all we've done so far is given ourselves the right to play in the final. Now we've got to go and earn the right to win the final.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo