Responsibility of leadership impacts KL Rahul: Graeme Smith

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07 Apr 2022 | 05:15 AM
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Responsibility of leadership impacts KL Rahul: Graeme Smith

The former South African skipper feels that Warner and Nortje will make things easier for Pant and Ponting

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes that the presence of David Warner and Anrich Nortje will make things easier for Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant and head coach Ricky Ponting. The two overseas stars missed the first two encounters of the Indian Premier League 2022 but will be available for the game Lucknow Super Giants on Thursday (March 7).

“If you have got Warner and Nortje fit and ready to go, you simply pick them. It’s a no-brainer. They are match-winners and could win you games single-handedly. It will add impactful players to your line-up and that in T20s is hugely important,” Smith, who won the inaugural edition of IPL with Rajasthan Royals in 2008, told Cricket.com.

Warner, who was released by Sunrisers Hyderabad after a bitter fallout last season, was bought by Delhi for INR 6.25 crore in the mega auction. The left-handed opener started his IPL journey with Delhi and was with the franchise for five years before moving to Hyderabad. Despite amassing over 500 runs for six consecutive seasons for SRH, Warner only got to play eight games in the last season. He didn’t do much with the bat but returned back to form in the last year’s World Cup, helping Australia win their maiden T20 title. He was named Player of the Tournament.

"David Warner comes with a wealth of experience and his performance in the World Cup would give him even more confidence. He is going to be a huge tick for Ponting and Pant," said Smith. 

"We know Warner is not the easiest character but if you can get him in the right frame of mind and keep him motivated, I think he could be a huge asset. We saw that in SRH. He led them from the front and then things kind of wobbled and fell apart. Ponting will know him well and how to get the best out of him. He will have a very clear mindset of how to use Warner. We saw him in the World Cup and he still has got a lot of ability. He is destructive and him and Prithvi Shaw up the order could take a lot of pressure off Pant."

Meanwhile, Nortje was retained by the Capitals ahead of Kagiso Rabada but the tearaway paceman from South Africa hasn’t played any cricket since the last T20 World Cup in November. The right-armer had a back and hip injury but is now fit and ready to go. Smith feels his presence will only make Delhi’s bowling line-up stronger, with the likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur and Mustafizur Rahman already giving them enough different varieties.

"Anrich Nortje for me is still a little bit of a lottery. He is coming off a big injury and hasn’t played any cricket since the T20 World Cup. They might take a longer-term view on him and they would want someone like him to have some game-time and get better and better. He is looking fit, he is looking healthy and could be the man for them that could make a big impact. He bowls quick and can get you those big wickets. Delhi would want him into this competition as quickly as possible.

"Delhi have got a nice balanced attack and if you add the pace of Nortje, I think that’s one element that has been missing in their bowling attack. They have got a left-armer and two quality spinners. Then they also have Thakur, so with Nortje, they have got a nice bowling attack and lots of options for Pant to use."

Smith also spoke about Lucknow skipper KL Rahul and feels that the burden of captaincy impacts the way he bats. However, the former South African batter feels someone like Manish Pandey will have to step up if the team management wants Rahul to bat more freely. “I think KL Rahul is a class player and because he has got so much talent and ball-striking ability… He can score all around the park and when he does get going, people generally expect him to always be this explosive dynamic player.

“The thing that I have noticed in the IPL and slightly for India is that the captaincy does impact him. The responsibility of leadership impacts him and he brings that into the way he plays. You are going to see a varied KL Rahul throughout the tournament. There’s a lot of pressure when you are leading a new franchise but he will be feeling a lot more confident and relaxed after getting those two wins. The monkey is kind of off his back. 

“Just like Pant, he needs people around him to perform well. Manish Pandey will have to score some runs and Evin Lewis could be destructive as well. Rahul knows how to read the game and doesn’t need to come out to bat with a specific mindset. If they lose early wickets, he can anchor the innings and pick his moments to be powerful. And, if the wicket is flat, he can really take advantage of it. He has got the cricket smarts and skills to play both those roles.”

Pandey has once again struggled to get going and has only managed scores of 6, 5 and 11 in three innings. However, Smith feels that the Super Giants should stick with him for now. “I think they will give him a longer rope. He is the kind of player that they would hope will click and find some form. I am always reluctant to chop and change every game and it could well become a trend. Make decisions for good reasons and I would like to see them back Pandey. Give him a couple more games, we know he is a classy player.”

Lucknow lost their first game against Gujarat Titans but then got the better of Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. And, Smith is mighty pleased with the way they have operated so far, especially their bowling attack. "Lucknow is quite a balanced team. There are a couple of outstanding players, but if you look at their bowling line-up, you don’t really see an out-and-out superstar. They have got some solid performing individuals and players who are constantly going to step up. If I look at their line-up, they have got more power and capability in their batting."

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Lucknow Super Giants vs Delhi CapitalsIndian Premier League, 2022Lucknow Super GiantsDelhi CapitalsGraeme SmithDavid WarnerAnrich NortjeManish PandeyKL Rahul

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