Millennium Post

DD coach Simmons defends Morkel omission

It took all of Delhi Daredevils coach Eric Simmons' skills to explain the shock decision to drop their bowling spearhead Morne Morkel, play rookie spinner Sunny Gupta and shuffle their batting order, all of which contributed to their 86-run defeat against the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League pre-final here on Friday.

When specifically queried at the post-match media conference whether the decision to drop Morkel backfired, Simmons went into a lengthy explanation and claimed that the South African fast bowler's omission was dictated by the need to lend balance to the team.

'When we do not have the services of Irfan Pathan, we need to find balance and we could have only four foreigners in the playing eleven. The question is not about Morne Morkel. You have to try and do the best possible to get the right. Lot of things go into it and we decided to have Andre Russell,' Simmons said.

'Russell bowled well, giving 29 runs from four overs, and took a catch and scored 16 runs. He has made a decent contribution. So, you could measure from that perspective. We discuss every possible angle when that happens. Russell was the direct replacement for Irfan Pathan. That is the decision we made and took our chance.'

'Sunny was a risk. Obviously, Chennai are a very balanced side with four left-handers and four right-handers in the top eight and it makes very difficult. It was one of those things you make a decision to play two spinners. And, Chennai has been very good in chasing,' the coach said.

'Murali Vijay played an incredible innings. If we could have restricted them to 180 or so, we could get it and then things works. It is difficult to sit in a situation like this and completely judge in hindsight. Someone played a great innings and we paid the price,' said Simmons.

The coach explained that the intention behind the decision to move regular opener Virender Sehwag to No.3 and promote Mahela Jayawardene to partner David Warner was "not to be predictable", and it was also taken since the Warner-Sehwag pairing had not delivered desired results.

'The batting line-up of Warner and Viru had not worked well. It was a better option to have since we want somebody to support Warner. Mahela plays well and comes up with good scores if he comes out. It was a way to have some difference and not to be predictable to the opposition,' said Simmons.

The coach disagreed that his team choked in a big match situation, but pointed out that his players did not play 'smart cricket' and gave away far too many boundaries.

'In 2009 too we dominated the league system. I was not there then. I cannot say. There was no tension in the team. There was no choking. I just think we need to learn as a unit to play smart cricket in such situations,' Simmons said.

'Lot of things had been spoken about how we are different in the bowling and batting. I think we have young players in certain areas and they are growing up. In that way, we will become a better unit in different conditions.'

'We had lot of dot balls but we gave more boundaries. We need to find balances in these aspects. I must say that we did not choke, but we were not firing in the last two games,' Simmons added.

In summing up his team's performance this season, Simmons said: 'I must say that we showed what we can do. I think that there are one or two tweaks that we need to make and then we will be a team to win in all conditions. That is the next choice.'

'We can arrive at a ground and whatever the opposition give us in terms of conditions we got to put up right combinations to be successful.'

'Finding the right balance is crucial in T-20. We take lot of positives from this tournament. The thing is to learn to bowl well in crucial and big overs. That is what champions do.'

Looking ahead to Sunday's final between the Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, the Daredevils coach said the home team looked a champion outfit given their balance and have come good when it mattered most.

'Chennai is a very balanced side and they sneaked in to the play-off with a mission. They are a tough team, balanced in both in the bowling and batting.'

'They have eight batsmen and can rotate the strike well. They struggled through the league system but come good at the business end which is the sign of champions and that is what they are,' he said.
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