TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
AS the captain of a team who had conceded 19 runs off the over just bowled JP Duminy might have been rattled as he pondered who should be entrusted with sending down the last six balls of the innings.
Rattled? Like hell. Duminy had planned well enough to be able to call on his entire attack: none of them had bowled four overs. He tossed the ball to Imran Tahir, who took two wickets and went for three runs to limit Kings XI Punjab’s total to 165/7. Duminy’s Delhi Daredevils replied with 169/5 to win with a ball to spare.
And that after Delhi had gone down to Chennai Super Kings by a solitary run and to Rajasthan Royals off the last ball of the match to stretch their losing streak – which started in last year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) – to a record-equalling 11 matches.
For Duminy to have several options available to him as he contemplated that 20th over was one thing. For him to make the right choice, given the bigger and small pictures, was distinctly another.
Three times in Delhi’s five matches at least four bowlers have had overs to spare at the end of their opponents’ innings. The closest Duminy has come to running out of ideas was against Rajasthan Royals, when four of the six bowlers he used had reached their quota. And that was without having bowled himself in the innings.
Three days after Delhi broke their duck against Punjab they got home by four runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad. This time Duminy got the job done himself, scoring 54 and taking 4/17 – the best figures in this year’s tournament going into Wednesday’s games.
“We know we made a few errors but we found a way to get the two points,” Duminy said with trademark modesty.
Delhi have fielded like daredevils indeed and they have celebrated their successes like little boys let loose on the playground, which tells its own story about how well Duminy has been received as their leader.
All this, mind, from one of the quieter players in SA’s dressingroom whose potential as a captain was first floated in the media last season. Then Faf du Plessis was rested for three T20s in Australia in November and Duminy stepped in as skipper. The Aussies won the series 2-1 but Duminy added a string to his bow.
Having turned 31 last Tuesday he does not have that many years left at the top. But should SA look to make use of Duminy’s suddenly prominent leadership skills?
“He’s been very impressive with Delhi but SA have three captains already and they’ve all done pretty well,” Mike Procter, who as convenor of selectors gave Duminy his break in test cricket, said on Wednesday.
“I didn’t think three captains would work but they have gelled really well. I guess three good cricketing heads are better than one.”
Delhi won’t mind. Despite Duminy’s performance they slipped to their third loss in five games against Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday. But they have the chance to balance the books against Mumbai Indians on Thursday.