Chennai, May 26: The surprising decision to leave out pacer Morne Morkel in the IPL 5 second qualifier raised a lot of questions but Delhi Daredevils coach Eric Simons defended their tactics and said it was to find the 'right balance' in the playing XI.
Simons said West Indies all-rounder Andre Russel was an automatic replacement for injured Irfan Pathan and they went for a second spin option with debutant Sunny Gupta.
Sehwag and Co crashed out of the IPL 5 after conceding a massive 222 runs and ended up losing miserably by 86 runs against Chennai Super Kings on Friday.
"When we do not have the services of Irfan Pathan, we needed to find balance. The question is not about Morne Morkel. Russell bowled well giving away 29 runs, took a catch and scored 16 runs. He made a decent contribution. So, you could measure from that perspective. Russell was the direct replacement for Irfan Pathan," Simmons said at the post-match press conference.
Considering a second spin option, Simons said Gupta was a risky inclusion to the side but backed Russell for his decent all-round performance.
"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. We had to take a decision to play someone who turns the ball away," he added.
The former Indian bowling coach admitted that they could have won the match had they restricted Chennai to 180 or so. Simons also defended skipper Virender Sehwag's decision to bat at number three.
"Chennai has been very good in chasing. 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 plays a great innings and we paid the price. The batting line of Warner and Viru had not worked well. It was a better option to have since we want somebody to support David Warner. Mahela plays well and comes up with good scores if he comes out," he said.
Though Delhi dominated the league stage, the failed to fire in important games. "In 2009 too we dominated the league system. I was not there then. I cannot say. I just think we need to learn as a unit to play smart cricket in such situations. Lot of things had been spoken about how we are different in the bowling and batting. I think we have young players and they are growing up. 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."
However, Simons was satisfied with his side's overall performance this season.
"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 winning 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," he said.
Simons praised defending champions Chennai, who are peaking at the right time in the tournament.
"Chennai is a very balanced side and they sneaked into the playoff with a mission. They are a tough team balanced in both, in the bowling and batting line up. They have eight batsmen who can rotate the strike well. They struggled through the league system but came good at the business end, which is the sign of champions and that is what they are," he said.