Hit hard by COVID-19 outbreak before their IPL game against Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals all-rounder Axar Patel said a pep talk from head coach Ricky Ponting worked wonders in lifting the morale of the side, resulting in a comprehensive win. DC showed remarkable resilience to overcome a COVID crisis in their camp and hand Punjab Kings a nine-wicket thrashing in an IPL game on Wednesday night.
The match, which was shifted to the Brabourne Stadium from Pune, was given a go ahead barely an hour before the start of play after DC wicketkeeper-batter Tim Seifert tested positive on Wednesday morning.
But head coach Ponting did all in his capacity to help his side stay focussed. ”We were quarantined and we started practice two-three days after that, he (Ponting) told us we have two options. We have to play the match. You can think that there are positive cases, and the preparations aren’t done.
”Or you can think all outside things are not in our hands and you should show commitment with regard to the effort and preparation,” Axar said.
”We were focusing on our game (and) we did our planning (accordingly). So that’s it, that was the speech and that was our mindset,” added the left-arm spinner, who grabbed two wickets and played a key role in bundling out Punjab for a sub-par 115.
Delhi first bowled out Punjab Kings for 115 and then cantered to the target in just 10.3 overs, riding on David Warner’s unbeaten 60. Axar was also happy with teammate Kuldeep Yadav’s return to form, saying the Delhi team management gave him the much needed confidence to prosper after a disappointing last IPL, where he represented Kolkata Knight Riders. ”Like you said, the atmosphere is very important. I had earlier said when he (Kuldeep) came, he needed confidence. After you don’t play well for a season or two, you are less confident, so Rishabh (Pant), I and the coaching staff – Ricky (Ponting) gave him the confidence, which was crucial,” Axar said.
”We gave him confidence in the practice match and he was told that he would play all the matches and doesn’t need to take tension about his performance.
”When he knows that he is playing all the matches, he needs to focus on his bowling. And that is happening. He is now focusing on his bowling and the way he is taking wickets, it becomes easy for me to partner with him,” he signed off.