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'No weak links' for Delhi Capitals, says Shane Watson as Mitchell Marsh readies to return

Assistant coach suggests Marsh will play Capitals' next game, against Royals Challengers Bangalore on Saturday

Having played for Chennai Super Kings most recently, Shane Watson is now assistant coach with Delhi Capitals  •  Getty Images

Having played for Chennai Super Kings most recently, Shane Watson is now assistant coach with Delhi Capitals  •  Getty Images

Delhi Capitals assistant coach Shane Watson believes the availability of the fit-again Mitchell Marsh for the side's upcoming fixture, against Royals Challengers Bangalore on Saturday, will make them "really hard to beat now".
Marsh, the Australia allrounder, had sustained a hip-flexor injury during the white-ball leg of the Pakistan tour last month and had been undergoing his rehabilitation with Capitals, under head physio Patrick Farhart. He will likely come in on Saturday and bat one-down, Watson revealed.
"I think we've got one of the strongest teams now and now Mitchell Marsh is going to be coming back in," Watson said in an interview with the Grade Cricketer on Friday. "It's looking like he'd be coming in for the next game... We're not going to have too many, no real weak links at all now with just the way the franchise picked up [players at the auction].
"The international quality Indian fast bowlers, for example, Shardul Thakur and we've got Khaleel Ahmed, who's just incredibly skilful as well. Also spin, our international-quality spinners, with Kuldeep Yadav, who is bowling amazingly well as well as Axar Patel...
"So, there's not too many weak links and Mitch Marsh is coming in to bat most probably [No.] 3. [It] just gives us even more strength, so we're going to be really hard to beat now that we've got our sort of full squad together, our best team together really. And it just depends on injuries along the way, but it's exciting."
Capitals have won two out of their four matches so far. Their most-recent victory featured Player-of-the-Match Kuldeep and their openers David Warner and Prithvi Shaw in starring roles.
Warner, who hadn't played any 20-over matches since the final of the T20 World Cup in November last year, top-scored with 61 in that game after kicking off his IPL 2022 season with 4 against Lucknow Super Giants.
"He [Warner] was a little bit sort of undone [against Super Giants]," Watson said of his former Australia team-mate. "You could see he was just a little bit tentative. But then the next game that Delhi Capitals played, he was at his best straightaway. So, the combination with him and Prithvi Shaw as well - it's going to be really awesome to watch every time they got to play throughout this tournament because Prithvi Shaw is an absolute freak of nature as well."
Reflecting on Warner's adaptability - he struck two fifties in six Test innings on Australia's tour of Pakistan before linking up with Capitals - Watson commended the opener's commitment to marrying his natural gifts with perseverance.
"Initially when he first came onto the scene, no one thought he's going to be able to play Test cricket. He was just a raw sort of power-hitter," Watson said. "But now to be able to see him just evolve into the cricketer that he is and the batsman he is - it's just amazing.
"[It] just shows what you can do if you've got raw skill, you can actually turn it to something if you work hard enough. And he's always been really fit for quite a while now as well, so it's impressive to his evolution as a cricketer. His personality - he's stayed true to himself all the way through."
With Marsh's likely inclusion and Warner finding his fluency, Watson expected Capitals' batting to hit another gear. But, as with most of the other franchises, he conceded that zeroing in on the best XI has been a challenge for his side this season, and has been a factor in their up-and-down run.
"I suppose one thing [it] comes down to [is] the 10 teams. It's just stretched out the talent pool..." Watson said. "One of the most important things coming into Delhi Capitals, for example, is trying to get the team to come together as quick as possible, work through as quick as you possibly can, what your combinations are going to be, and then try to stick with them for as long as you possibly can because teams are still chopping and changing a little bit of their combinations - sometimes with injury but more so just working through who's going to play where."
"Mumbai Indians had a shocking auction" - Watson
Watson believes while "there are not too many teams really dominating" this season, Mumbai Indians' strategy at February's mega auction has left them particularly exposed. "It hasn't surprised me that Mumbai Indians are at the bottom of the table because they had a shocking auction," Watson said of the five-time champions, who have lost five in five this year. "Like, spending so much money on Ishan Kishan, who's a very talented, skilful player but he's not worth blowing nearly a whole salary on and then going [for] Jofra Archer as well, not knowing whether he's going to come back in."
Defending champions Chennai Super Kings - Watson's old team - have been another slow starter this season, registering their first points only after four straight defeats. Watson said holes in their pace bowling were an issue.
"The biggest issue for me with CSK now, seeing the five games they've played, has been they've just got a hole, especially, I'd say, with their bowling in particular, the fast bowling," Watson said. "The previous years they had Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, who is injured [and ruled out of IPL 2022 as of Friday afternoon].
"They don't have a quality overseas quick as well. They had Josh Hazlewood last year. They always had a world-class overseas as quick as well, so that's where they're really struggling at the moment."
Watson lauds Titans, Super Giants for "gelling quickly"
Twenty-four games into the season, Watson singled out the two debutant franchises for the cohesion they have shown.
"The thing that's probably surprised me the most has been the new franchises that have come in," he said. "I thought they would take a bit longer to sort of get their combinations right and just sort of pull things together but they've been really good.
"Gujarat Titans are on top of the ladder at the moment [as of April 14] with four wins out of five games. Lucknow Super Giants - they should have got over the line last game - oh my gosh, Marcus Stoinis, why is he batting [at No.] 8?
"Anyway, so, they've been very impressive with just the way their teams gelled together."