Kevin Pietersen defends David Warner and Rishabh Pant after IPL struggles

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has defended Australia opener David Warner and India star Rishabh Pant after they suffered rare failures in the Indian Premier League.

Warner attracted criticism from fans after scoring 57 from 55 balls during Sunrisers Hyderabad’s seven-wicket defeat to Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday.

Delhi Capitals skipper Pant was in a similar position 24 hours earlier when he made 58 not out in a one-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

‘We have become so accustomed to opening batsmen whacking 50 off 25 balls that we sometimes forget these guys are not robots,’ Pietersen told Betway.

‘There was some criticism of David Warner for his 57 against Chennai on Wednesday, but sometimes these things just happen.

‘You can get some good deliveries and there are days when you just hit fielders with every shot. In his post-match interview, he said that he just hit fielders constantly in the first six overs.

‘Rishabh Pant was in the same boat for Delhi Capitals on Tuesday when he scored, by his standards, a slow half-century.

‘If these guys were batting with no intent then I’d be far more critical, but sometimes run-scoring just doesn’t come easily, however hard you try.’

Pietersen added: ‘The Ahmedabad surface is better than we saw in Chennai and Mumbai earlier in the tournament, but it’s very difficult for the ground staff to keep the pace in the wicket when there is so much cricket being played on it.

‘You have to water the wickets to get the grass back up to create the pace and there isn’t enough time between games.

‘When the dew comes down then batting does become easier in the evening, but that’s only been happening sporadically, too.

‘When RCB posted 171-5 against Delhi, I’d done the pitch report saying that it’s going to be much easier to chase because of the dew – but then a sandstorm arrived and completely prevented it from falling.

‘It looked obvious for Delhi to bat second, but they were made to look worse because the conditions didn’t change in the way that anybody expected. It’s one of several reasons why the runs aren’t flowing.’

MS Dhoni’s Chennai are top of the IPL with five wins from six matches and have a game in hand over most of their rivals.

Last season’s runners-up Delhi Capitals are currently second, ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Mumbai Indians.

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