The Delhi Capitals currently have six wins from eight games in IPL 2020, but Ricky Ponting, their head coach, feels the team is yet to play its best cricket. And that's fine with him, because he would rather that comes in the "back-half" of the tournament - that's between now and the end.
"It's looking good at this stage of the season," Ponting told the franchise a day before the Capitals' next game, against the Chennai Super Kings. "I'm never one to look too far ahead because I know how quickly the IPL can turn around. We have seen teams in the past be six wins from their first six games and then not go on to make the playoffs. We'll keep a lid on things. I still think that we have six wins from eight games but we haven't played our best cricket yet.
"One thing I have been telling the boys from the start of this tournament is that I want us to play our best cricket in the back-half of the tournament, not necessarily in the front-half of the tournament. So we will keep working towards that, we will keep working towards the perfect game, but right now there is a really good feel around the group, and when you have a good feel and good environment, I think you tend to win a lot of games."
The Super Kings have just three wins from eight games. In their earlier meeting in the tournament, the Capitals had registered a comfortable win. That changes nothing, according to Ponting.
"One of the things I have been telling the boys is that if we can just keep ourselves in the game, keep ourselves in the contest and keep fighting, then we might just be able to pull some wins out of games we probably shouldn't win"
"They [the Super Kings] are proven performers, probably been the best team in the IPL since day one," he said. "When you've got guys like [Shane] Watson and [MS] Dhoni and Faf [du Plessis] and these sorts of guys in a side, you can't take them lightly. I just want to keep them switched on for another week, we're going to have to push hard for these next couple of games - we've got CSK and then Kings XI [Punjab] coming up after that.
"I don't want us to get complacent and take things for granted at this stage of the tournament, because things are going well. When things are going well, it's time to push that little bit harder and go a little bit harder. That's what we will be doing for the next week. But right now we're just looking forward to every challenge that comes our way, and we feel that if we play somewhere near our best cricket, then we are going to be hard to beat every game."
After stumbling against the Mumbai Indians, the Capitals put their campaign back on the track with a hard-fought win against the Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday. Ponting was visibly excited after the side's win.
"I do tend to get a bit emotional in the dugout, and I think the main reason I get emotional is because I care so much about the results of this team," he said. "We put in a lot of hard work, and all that planning and preparation, obviously comes down to what the boys do on game day. So obviously I do get heavily involved. Last night probably more so, because we started the game really poorly - lost a wicket off the first ball, and then Jinks [Ajinkya Rahane] was out after a bit.
"But one of the things I have been telling the boys is that if we can just keep ourselves in the game, keep ourselves in the contest and keep fighting, then we might just be able to pull some wins out of games we probably shouldn't win. I think last night was one of those games.
"We did exceptionally well with the bat to post 161 on the back of a great partnership between Shikhar [Dhawan] and Shreyas [Iyer]. And the first three overs of their innings was none for 37 and the game was slipping away. But the guys dug deep, hung in there, the fielding was what we expect, the bowling was outstanding, particularly from [Anrich] Nortje and [R] Ashwin, and we turned it around. I just love seeing the boys fight like that for every win, because as we know, in the IPL it's not easy to win games, so to pinch a game like that last night was a great result for the boys."