“It was a decision which was taken out of our hands. It was a decision that CSA made. He (Rabada) had a sore lower back in the last couple of games and after our last home game here, it got a little worse. So CSA took the decision as precautionary measure to ensure that he is fit for the World Cup,” Ponting told the media ahead of their final league game against Rajasthan Royals in New Delhi on Saturday.
The Capitals will now have to bring in New Zealand paceman Trent Boult to replace Rabada. Boult has been sitting on the sidelines for most of the tournament after being the second highest wicket-taker in IPL-11.
“It’s a massive loss obviously but it’s a loss that we can cover. We have someone like Trent Boult, who is a world-class fast bowler. He had a terrific season for Delhi last year. With him coming to the side now, we think we can cover for the loss of Rabada quite well,” the former Australian captain said.
Playing his first game of the season against Chennai Super Kings, Boult had impressive figures of 2-0-2-0 in his first spell before Mahendra Singh Dhoni blasted him for 20 runs in the final over.
Ponting said that the other Capitals bowlers will need to up their ante in the absence of Rabada.
“Rabada has held the ship up a lot with his death bowling in this tournament. So now, we have to find out the guys who can step in. There is going to be opportunities for others, whether it is Trent or (Chris) Morris or Ishant (Sharma) or one of our spinners,” the Capitals coach said.
“To have a very good death bowler in the team is a great asset and we need to make sure that the guys we have in the squad, their skill is up to scratch for the remaining few games we have,” he added.
Ponting said the 80-run loss to CSK earlier this week was a ‘wake-up call’ for the side, who are one of the three teams in the Playoffs this season.
“We have played excellent cricket in the first 5 or 6 weeks of the tournament. The boys are aware of what they are capable of. I have spoken to the boys after the game the other night,” Ponting said.
The Delhi franchise will be aware that a win on Saturday can assure them of a second spot on the league table but a poor net run-rate will be a concern because Mumbai Indians still have a game in hand against Kolkata Knight Riders.
“We still have a lot to play for. We need to win this game to give ourselves a chance to finish one or two. For us there is plenty to play for. Every game is difficult to win. We are on the same boat. Rajasthan have nothing to lose and they are going to come out all guns blazing and we too have nothing to lose either,” he said.
Ponting backed Rishabh Pant’s approach and reiterated that he would never ask the youngster to change his style of play.
“As a coach, I am not going to stop Pant from playing his shots. He has to play with complete freedom. I am very confident that he will end the tournament on a high note.”
First Published: May 3, 2019, 7:57 PM IST