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Kirsten in a dilemma over JP’s role

Calcutta: There are many things that have gone wrong for Delhi DareDevils in this year’s IPL . The injury and subsequent lack of form of Kevin Pietersen, the loss of their bowling spearhead, Nathan Coulter-Nile, to injury and the struggles of Mohammed Shami. However, perhaps, the most pressing question the DD fans have on their minds is ‘Why does JP Duminy, DD’s best batsman this season walking out to bat at No.5 and often performing the catching up role after a top-order failure?’

DareDevils coach, Gary Kirsten, on the eve of their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, admitted that Duminy’s batting position is a tricky matter and the management is torn up as to whether he should solidify the top order or continue to play the finisher.

“As a coach you always sit on that — do you get your best batsman to face the most number of balls or do you use him to finish,” Kirsten said. “MS Dhoni never bats higher up the order because he is such a good finisher. RCB generally keep AB de Villiers back to finish. We sit with the same problem when it comes to Duminy — whether we keep him for the last five-six overs, where he’s been devastating, or do we use him earlier to play a slightly different role. We’ve been caught in between.”

Kirsten cited DareDevil’s last game, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, when Laxmi Ratan Shukla was sent ahead of Duminy at No.5. He reasoned the decision, while admitting it didn’t work like they expected it to.

“In the last game, that certainly was the case. I was about four balls away from asking JP to go in next. Then Mayank Agarwal got out and we made a decision to send Laxmi Ratan Shukla instead just for that time so that JP could bat in the end. It didn’t work out like we wanted it to, but that’s the risk you run. The one thing I will tell you is that as coaches we don’t always get it right. I am learning and making mistakes, and hopefully, as a team we are learning through the losses,” said the former India coach.

“Yes, ultimately, you do want your best batsman to face the most balls, but you also want the best of both worlds and are looking for them to finish games for you,” the coach said.

That conundrum, however, seems to be solving itself now that Pietersen has some runs under his belt, especially the 19-ball 35 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kirsten is pleased to have the captain back in some sort of form and he hopes that it is a sign of some big runs to come.

“When he is playing, he is massive to the team,” Kirsten said of Pietersen. “He’s been a fantastic captain and a big contributor to the younger guys who look up to him. But like any captain, when he’s playing at his best, you can add about 20 percent to the team.”