Dubai: When the Delhi Capitals were left demoralised after a rather humiliating defeat to Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier last Thursday, the team received a special delivery from Delhi to Dubai – a box full of handwritten notes and thoughtful gifts from fans.
The delight was evident on the players’ faces as they unboxed the fan mail and read the supportive messages. Some fans also sent special tokens such as a soft toy tiger - which has now become a part of the team’s dressing room.
The special surprise, for a team which had been away from their homes for nearly three months now, was possibly just what they needed to bolster their spirits before their knockout match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, in which they emerged victorious to qualify for their maiden IPL final.
Speaking ahead of the big game, Ricky Ponting, the team’s Head Coach said: “I had pretty high expectations coming here (UAE). I knew we had put a really good squad of players together. We had a great start but things got a little bit shaky towards the back-end, but the boys have managed to play two really good games out of their last three, and hopefully we can play our best game in the final.”
“Looking back, yeah it’s been a good season, but we still haven’t won anything yet - and that’s what we are here for – we are here to win the IPL, and we’ll give it our best shot,” he added.
Reflecting on the season where his team went through several ups and downs but still managed to finish second on the league table, the former Australian skipper said: “Yeah, it was a little bit frustrating because up until that point (four consecutive losses), we had played some very good cricket and we were arguably the best team in the tournament. But I think some of the boys got a little bit complacent and it was at that stage of the tournament where things were starting to get a little bit tough for everybody, but to their credit they found a way to fight back and played really well in a must-win game against RCB, and yesterday (against SRH) was one of our best performances as well – particularly with the bat. I think our best cricket is still yet to come.”
Ponting sent fellow Australian allrounder Marcus Stoinis up the order against SRH in Qualifier 2, a move that worked for his team, and ‘Punter’ believes Stoinis provided his team with a presence in the powerplay overs. “The way our team balances worked out in the first part of the tournament with Prithvi and Jinks both being there, made it difficult to get Stoinis up the order. But everytime he (Stoinis) has been given an opportunity in the tournament, especially if he went in with 10 or 12 overs to go, he played really well.
‘‘He opens in the Big Bash, and I’ve seen some amazing innings from him back in Australia at the top of the order. I think he’s vastly improved in the past 12 months and we are all starting to see how good he can be with the bat and the bowl and even in the field.”