Delhi Capitals’ (DC) head coach Ricky Ponting has termed losing four matches on the trot before winning their final league game against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the hardest thing to endure, as they were looking to qualify for the playoffs.
DC managed to do so and ended up on the second spot in the points table and will face Mumbai Indians (MI) in Qualifier 1 on November 5.
The Delhi-based side had the best start to the tournament, winning seven out of their first nine games. However, Shreyas Iyer and his men suffered four losses on the bounce to slip to the third spot and were in danger of missing out on the playoffs due to their deteriorating net-run-rate.
"It has been the hardest thing (to have lost four matches). I think, over the last couple of weeks, the key was to make sure that the confidence was still up," Ponting said.
"Whenever you lose a few games in a row at the back-end of the tournament, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to change the momentum. But, credit to the boys -- they were outstanding. You could see different energy around the group that really set the tempo for the whole game," he added.
DC beat RCB by 6 wickets, chasing down the 153-run target with ease, with Ajinkya Rahane making a good half-century.
"It wasn't the perfect game but it was a really good, solid performance that we needed to put up. They are a really good side, and we won with an over to spare, which in T20 cricket is quite a big margin. I am most proud because it was do-or-die, and the boys knew that and they responded in a really positive manner,” said Ponting.
DC will now have two shots to reach the finals of the tournament.
"The way I am looking at it now is that we have done that, and we just have two more games to play, and it will gear ourselves up to try and win the first final, then let's see how we can go from there. So we can look ahead now to MI, who have beaten us twice in this tournament, and make sure we are ready to go for them in a few days," Ponting said.
The match will be played in Abu Dhabi, where DC has won only one match in IPL 2020 league stage.
Speaking about his team's record at Abu Dhabi, Ponting said, "Well, that's funny because I have purposely not spoken about the venue or the ground. I mean, the first couple of games that we played, we talked about, ‘oh we can't win in Abu Dhabi, what is it about the ground,' but coming into this game, we didn't mention it at all, it's just another ground.”
"The wicket was outstanding, that's probably the best wicket we've had right through the tournament," said the batting legend.
Ponting also said that living in the bio-bubble has been hard on everyone.
"I think there have been a lot of challenges, through this tournament as well, with three and a half weeks training before our first game, being in a bubble, in a lock-down. It's been hard, and I think every team at some stage was just a little bit down because of that - ours just happened in the last couple of weeks. But now this could be a real moment for us to gear up for the last 10 days of the tournament,” he signed off.