Perennial underachievers Delhi Capitals have turned things around this season with confident performances throughout IPL 2019. Their showing has seen them top the IPL points table, a rarity for the team which has finished bottom four times in the last nine years. The reason for the success, as per Prithvi Shaw, goes to the mentors Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly.
Opener Shaw said coach Ponting, advisor Sourav Ganguly and assistant coach Mohammad Kaif have stitched the team into an effective unit.
“With seniors like Sourav sir, Ricky sir, Kaif sir around, the body language changes. There are few youngsters like me, Sandeep (Lamichhane), Manjot (Kalra) but we are never made to feel that we were inexperienced, instead we are always kept in the same group with the seniors, on and off the field.
“Sourav sir even chill with us when we don’t have practice. We go for dinners together. So there is a very strong bonding,” said Shaw at the post-match press conference.
Delhi Capitals leapfrogged Chennai Super Kings on Monday (April 22) following a six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. Chasing 192 runs for the win, Rishabh Pant played a pivotal role with 78 runs from 36 balls to steer them to victory. At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan provided a rollicking start with 54 runs from 27 balls. The duo added 72 runs for the opening wicket in 7.3 overs. Even as Dhawan slammed the bowlers all around the park, Shaw was more measured in his approach.
“I had not slowed down. It makes sense if someone is going better than you in the Power Play like Shikhi (Dhawan) bhai has done, I can’t just go out and smash every ball. I have to be mentally prepared as well to play that sort of innings.
“When Dhawan was hitting the way he was, I thought I should take the game deep because in case he got out, one set batsman should be there to take the game deep,” said Shaw.
“And that’s what happened, he and Shreyas Iyer, both were dismissed in quick succession. But I was confident that if I took the game deep, I would be able to do the job. Rishabh (Pant, who scored 78 off 36 balls), obviously is the biggest finisher of the game in T20 right now. I was just waiting for my chance and later on I too switched gears,” he explained.
Shaw said Delhi were confident of chasing down the total. “Definitely, there was a plan. We knew in the Power Play there will at least be one spinner bowling and Shikhar bhai was batting so well in the Power Play, he was in a good flow. Then Jofra Archer, we knew he depends more on short balls and bouncers, so we were prepared,” said Shaw.
Batting first, Ajinkya Rahane looked to have put Rajasthan in prime position for second straight win at home thanks to a scintillating century. But Delhi did well to prevent them from going past the 200 run mark.
“The way they started…Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) played a superb innings, Steve Smith also played a fine innings. It felt like the wicket was pretty good. I believe we did a good job between 13th to 20th over to pull them down in those seven overs, otherwise the total possibly could have gone to 210 or even 220.”
Rajasthan keeper-batsman Sanju Samson admitted that with seven defeats in 10 matches, a playoff spot looks tough. “It is very tough now. We may still qualify but will have to look at other teams now and will have to win our remaining matches,” said Samson.
Samson, who was dismissed for a duck, said batting became easier in the second innings. “It was a good wicket to start with, it was a decent wicket. I think in the first innings, in the Power Play, the wicket was holding up a bit, but as the dew came it became much easier to bat on in the second innings. Having a batsman like Shikhar Dhawan in Delhi, and in the form he is, he took the Power Play from us and Rishabh Pant came and did the job for them,” said Samson.
It felt special when Sourav sir lifted me: Pant
Pant said it “felt special” when Ganguly lifted him to celebrate the youngster’s blistering 78 run knock that took Delhi Capitals to win. “After I finished off the match and coming out, everyone was showering so much love. It felt special when Sourav sir lifted me, it was a different experience,” said Pant during a post-match interaction with Shaw.
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) 22 April 2019
— Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) 22 April 2019
Just as Pant hit the winning runs, finishing it off with a six, former India skipper entered the ground and lifted him up.
“We talk about finishing these big games for the team, and when we do it, feels really special,” he added.
When asked how he felt about his innings, Pant replied, “It’s a great feeling, especially the fact that I was with you (Shaw) in the middle, I knew we would finish it.”
Pant then asked Shaw about the luck factor against Jofra Archer, when he missed a full toss and the ball went on to hit the stumps and light the bails, which didn’t fall on the ground. “This was a first time experience for me. I didn’t realise it had happened. I thought it had nicked my bat. It was only when someone, probably you only told me that the bails had lighted up,” revealed Shaw.
Shaw and Pant added 84 runs for the third wicket in quick time to help Delhi cross the line in a steep chase of 192.