Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting has used the latest episode of The ICC Review to expertly dissect the upcoming IPL and provide his thoughts on the teams that will prove hardest to beat, the inexperienced players he expects to become household names and just how the new playing conditions will affect the tournament.
Ponting will lead a new-look Capitals squad into battle over the eight-week tournament, with Australia veteran David Warner captaining the franchise in the absence of regular skipper Rishabh Pant.
And while Ponting is hoping the Capitals will be able to build on their fifth-placed finish in 2022, the Australia great acknowledged just how evenly matched most of the teams are and believes this year's event is the most open for some time.
"It's a tough question…as very rarely does a team dominate the IPL from the start to the finish,” Ponting noted on The ICC Review when asked by host Sanjana Ganesan as to which teams – outside of his own - he thinks will reach this year’s final.
"Obviously Gujarat (Titans) last year were amazing, a brand new team and were able to win the tournament.
"The other finalist last year, Rajasthan Royals, I think have got a really, really good squad. And we said that last year, immediately after the auction, we were pretty impressed with what they were able to do and put a good squad together. They've only built on that again this year. I think Rajasthan will be there, thereabouts.
"It's a hard game to judge and a hard game to understand who's going to win. Who stands up in the moment will generally win more often than not. But if I'm looking at the squads, Rajasthan has got a good squad as anybody."
And while Ponting said he is still doing his homework on the make-up of other squads and was reluctant to single out opposition players that he expects to shine, the former Australia captain was quick to name two rising prospects from his side that he believes will prosper.
Ponting expects young India star Yash Dhull to build on the performances that saw him named captain of the Team of the Tournament at last year's ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup and predicted emerging all-rounder Aman Khan as another player that may have a breakout event.
“Yash Dhull, the ex-India U19 captain has had a really good domestic season and I'm hoping that he gets some good opportunity to play for Delhi Capitals through this season,” Ponting said.
"The other one is Aman Khan whom we traded from Kolkata (Knight Riders) for Shardul Thakur. He's been ultra-impressive in everything that he's done so far in our training camps and when we played our first practice game the other night he dominated that.
“I think he made 72 not out off about 38 balls and he is big, tall, strong and powerful.
“I don't know what a lot of the other squads have got as far as young talent's concerned, but I know we've got a couple here that are very, very good and we're hoping to be able to showcase them as the season goes on."
Ponting believes the new playing conditions that have been introduced for this year's edition of the IPL will take some time to get used to and the Delhi coach said he was keen to see how opposition coaches adjust prior to his team's first match against the Lucknow Super Giants on Saturday.
Teams don't have to announce their playing XIs until after the toss this year and can name four players as substitutes and can use one as an Impact Player during a match.
"I like what they (tournament organisers) are trying to do by trying to get more involvement in the game and get different players involved in the game and I am interested to see how it works,” Ponting said.
“Different teams are going to use the impact player in different ways and I am really intrigued to see how that will work.
“Let's wait and see. It's a nice innovation and it's definitely going to give a lot more work to the coaches once the game starts.
"I mean, normally as a coach, once the game is started, there's not much you can do to influence the outcome of the game. But with this. I think there's some significant ways that you can tactically influence the game.
"I know the captain's the only one that can activate the impact player but the coaches will be doing most of the thinking on the sideline and passing information to the captain.”
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