By Niharika Raina
New Delhi, Mar 24 (IANS): Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has backed Australia Mitchell March to come good in the upcoming IPL 2023, saying that the fast-bowling all-rounder is currently in the best form he's ever seen of him.
March had recently clinched the Player of the Series award in Australia's 2-1 ODI series win over India, making 194 runs at an average of 97, including two half-centuries coming in as a makeshift opener.
He had played a key role in Australia's 2021 T20 World Cup triumph as a number three batter and Ponting expects him to do the same for Delhi, apart from shouldering some bowling duties.
"He will be a top-order batter and all-rounder for us. I think he is coming into the tournament in the best form I have seen him in. He has got three-four months rest in Australia and recovered from the ankle surgery he had back in November (last year)."
"He has not bowled in games yet but he has been bowling for the past five-six weeks and by the time he gets with us, his role in our team will be to bowl some overs as well and he knows that and understands that."
"In the ODI series (against India), we did see how destructive he can be and on a couple of occasions for DC last year, he played some match-winning knocks at number three. So, he's a really important player for us as those world-class all-rounders are not easy to find and come across. I am hoping he has his best IPL season with us this year," said Ponting during an event here on Friday.
Apart from Marsh, another Australian, left-handed opener David Warner will be leading the side in Rishabh Pant's absence. Warner, who was Delhi's stand-in captain during his earlier stint with the franchise from 2009-13, had taken Sunrisers Hyderabad to the IPL 2016 title.
Asked if Warner will bat at number four, a position left vacant by Pant's absence, Ponting made it clear that he will open the batting, reuniting with Prithvi Shaw at the top.
"I don't want him to bat at number four for us. He has been one of the most successful, if not the successful opener, in IPL history," the Delhi coach said.
"I think we saw the games he played for DC last year. He was our leading run-scorer and there were a number of games that he won with his own batting. He is such a competitive guy, who is going at top of the order and you know he can take the game. He is skilful, experienced and he is now our leader. I will be very, very surprised if he bats anywhere other than opening the batting," he added.
IPL 2023 is being held in an ODI World Cup year, where the global tournament, to be held in India in October-November, will be on the minds of many players, who are on the radar of workload management from the Indian think-tank. But Ponting believes players need to focus on what their present role is, instead of thinking about happenings in future.
"Ideally, anyone we bring into the Delhi Capitals franchise wants to play for India. We want them to have the drive and passion of the best that they can be and every time they get an opportunity to play for us, they win games for us. When you win games for Delhi, you are doing the right thing by giving yourself the best chance to be in that World Cup squad," Ponting said.
"One thing I stress to the young guys is that if they start looking too far ahead and start thinking about World Cups. You got to be thinking about now and you have to start being in the present and play your role for the team. So, this is what I will say to the young guys in the Delhi Capitals. It's my job to get these guys ready and win games for us. As far as the other selections (national) are concerned, it is completely out of my hands," he added.