Now we have to play fearlessly – Zaheer
Zaheer Khan has put Delhi Daredevil’s record-breaking defeat to Mumbai Indians down to “just one of those days where we couldn’t get going”. He could not find fault with his batsmen’s approach, he said, nor was he pessimistic about Daredevils’ chances of making the top four after Saturday night’s rout.
“It was a good Delhi wicket to bat on, you could see. Today also we thought it was going to be a 200-run game,” Zaheer said after Daredevils’ 146-run loss, the biggest margin of defeat by runs in IPL cricket. “Basically, once a team gets 200, you know as a batting unit you have to do the things that work for you, which had been working for us in the last couple of games, which is just play freely and go for it. So I don’t think there was anything wrong in terms of the approach.”
Daredevils inserted Mumbai, who piled up 212 for 3. In their previous match, Daredevils, at the same venue, the Feroz Shah Kotla, had chased 209 against Gujarat Lions with seven wickets and 15 balls to spare. Rishabh Pant had tonked 97 off 43 in that game, while opener Sanju Samson hit 61 off 31. Against Mumbai, though, both batsmen were out for ducks as Daredevils slumped to 35 for 5 in the Powerplay. Given the dew around, and their performance against Lions, Zaheer said such an outcome was farthest from their minds before the chase began.
“Given another chance I would probably go with the same combination. The wicket played really, really well. There was dew around the sixth over when we were bowling, you know, so we felt that dew will work for us,” Zaheer said. “It’s just that those first six overs in such run chases are critical. You look to get 55-60 runs, set that platform, not lose too many wickets, and when things go wrong, this is what happens.
“But in terms of approach if you ask me, the approach was absolutely fine, we were going for it, we all felt we could get these runs. It was just losing wickets in bunches meant we were always lagging behind in the game.”
Daredevils’ next match is on May 10, against Lions in Kanpur. After that they have games against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 12 and 14 to conclude the group stage. To progress, they will have to win their remaining three games and hope other results go their way. Zaheer said they would not be stressing over the various permutations, but just look to play their best and take points of each of those three games.
“Definitely, the chance is still there, the important thing is we have to win,” he said. “That’s all you can think of, and to get that you have to play good cricket. Our focus will be to regroup as quickly as possible. We have three days break now, so regroup, stay positive, get in that mindset again, and play good cricket. That’s all we are hoping for, and that’s all we’re going to try and do.”
This result, meanwhile, kept Mumbai at the top of the points table and sealed their spot in the playoffs. Much of the credit for the victory would have to go to the big-hitting Kieron Pollard, who thumped 63 off 35 to build on his West Indies team-mate and Mumbai opener Lendl Simmons’ 66 off 43. Pollard’s knock came after a promotion to No. 3, and, speaking to Simmons after the game, in an interview on the IPL site, he joked that batting so high up made him feel like a proper batsman.
“Great feeling, felt like a Test batsman there, walking out to bat at No. 3,” Pollard said. “Was very much surprised [to bat at No. 3]… I’m going back to the hotel, I’m going to get my white clothes ready, you know, put it under my Mumbai Indians clothes, so when I come out my technique will be right when I come out at No. 3.”
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