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Pant's absence is a loss, but Axar geared up to lead DC: Ricky Ponting

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Bengaluru, May 11 (PTI) Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting said on Saturday that Axar Patel will lead the side against Royal Challengers Bengaluru after the suspension of Rishabh Pant, whose absence the Australian termed a "loss".

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The Capitals' regular skipper Pant was on Saturday handed a one-match suspension for maintaining a slow over-rate for the third time in this IPL.

Pant was also fined Rs 30 lakh for the Code of Conduct breach that took place during DC's 20-run win against Rajasthan Royals on May 7 in New Delhi.

"Axar Patel will be our captain for tomorrow. He's obviously been vice-captain for the last couple of seasons.

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"He is a very experienced IPL and international player, understands the game really well. He's really excited about it and is always involved and in tune with the game," said Ponting in the pre-match press meet here.

Ponting said the Capitals were aware of the possibility of Pant getting banned a few days ago, and were preparing for that eventuality.

"We started talking about it a couple of days ago when there was a possibility that Rishabh might be banned. We've obviously known that he's been on two strikes.

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"We could have actually stood him down from the captaincy to potentially stop this happening, but at the end of the day, the time that's taken out on the field is the captain's responsibility," he said.

The former Australian captain said if Khaleel Ahmed bowled a regulation over in the match against RR, things could have been different for Pant.

"Circumstantially, he was probably a little bit unlucky in the last game. Going into Khaleel’s last over, we were only three minutes behind. So, if Khaleel bowled a regulation over without those extra balls (after three wides) and then in Kuldeep's next over we got a wicket, we would have got all of our time back.

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"So, the fact that Khaleel's over went for nine minutes, we went further behind the time, and there's no way you can drag your time back," Ponting explained.

The Tasmanian said the only remedy to avoid such incidents in the past is to go through the front 10 quickly to get that extra few minutes in the death overs where usually the proceedings get tight.

"Look, if you're behind at the halfway mark, four or five minutes down in a tight game, you're never going to pick your time up.

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"That's one thing we've been talking to all the boys about is just ensure that the first 10 overs we get through as quick as we can, especially if you're not taking wickets." Ponting admitted that not having Pant for a crucial match was a big miss but he said the team was ready for the grind.

"Rishabh's not there. One of the best players, you know, in this particular IPL. I think he is our leading run-scorer, and not to have him there is a loss for us.

"But it's also a great challenge for everybody else. We have to work that little bit harder to make sure that they get the job done for the team," he added.

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Ponting said David Warner, who suffered a nasty hit on his wrist last month, is recovering and his availability for the match against RCB will be determined after assessing him at nets.

'Adjusting to new role' =============== RCB batter Rajat Patidar, who regained his form in the second half of this IPL making three fifties after a low-key beginning, said he has mentally adjusted to the new role of playing in the middle-order.

"This season I got a new role in batting in the middle-order. I had done too much batting in the top-order. So, I spoke to Virat bhai and DK bhai and try and learn from their experience (of batting in the middle-order)," said Patidar.

"It was all about quick decision making while you bat in the middle-order as you often come to bat around 11th or later," he added. PTI UNG AH AH

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