Playing his first game in six months, Shreyas Iyer had "a really good feeling" after scoring an unbeaten 47 off 41 balls on a pitch where the ball wasn't coming on to the bat.
Chasing 135 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he first added 52 in 48 balls with Shikhar Dhawan and then took the side home with an unbroken 67-run stand off 42 balls with Rishabh Pant. However, Iyer wasn't content with his performance.
"I wouldn't say I am satisfied because the hunger has gone up," he said after the game. "The appetite keeps on increasing with every match you play. So I am not satisfied or content."
Iyer was making a comeback from the shoulder injury he suffered during the home series against England in March. He had to undergo surgery, which ruled him out of the first leg of the IPL as well as a proposed stint with Lancashire.
It also meant Iyer lost Capitals' captaincy to Pant. Even after he returned for the UAE leg, the franchise decided to continue with Pant as captain. While Iyer no longer has that added responsibility, it doesn't necessarily mean his focus on his batting has increased drastically.
"When I was given the captaincy, I was in a different frame of mind," he said. "My decision-making and the temperament level were really good and that had benefitted me in the last two years. But I respect the franchise's decision. And if you see, Rishabh has been leading really well from the start of the season.
"It hasn't changed anything drastically for me that my focus on my batting has increased many times. When I was the captain… I like to soak in the pressure. Whenever there is pressure, there is a challenge, and I do well when there's a challenge.
"Even today when I went in, the pressure was there to win the game for the side as the wicket was a bit uneven. My mindset was the same, that being a main part of the team, I have to finish the game. Whenever I play, my mindset is to stay there till the end and see to it that I make the team win."
Iyer came in to bat with Capitals' on 20 for 1 in the third over on a used pitch. While his wasn't particularly a fluent knock, Iyer said his role with the bat hadn't changed after his return.
"My role is always based on the situation but my intent has always been positive. I see to it that I have that aggressive nature when I step on to the field irrespective of the situation. Even before my injury, I was in that frame of mind and I am still continuing with the same approach.
"My routine and process have been on point. During my preparation, I ticked all the boxes before coming here, which tells that I am in a great state of mind. I keep backing my instincts… that's what I have been doing. This was just the first game. It's a long leg and hopefully, I will keep performing in the same way and see to it that we win the championship."
Bayliss: I don't think Natarajan's presence would have affected the result of the match
Sunrisers, on the other hand, find themselves on the brink of elimination. They are also without T Natarajan for now, who tested positive for Covid-19 before the game. On Wednesday, though, it was their batters who let them down.
"I don't think it [Natarajan's presence] would have affected the result of the match," Trevor Bayliss, the Sunrisers' coach, said after the game. "They [Capitals] played way too well for us tonight. Look, it was a little bit of an upset as Natarajan was going to play. But these guys are professional players, and every now and then, there's an injury just before playing, and you have to make a late replacement. So I am sure all of the players, in a way, are used to that."
Natarajan's absence meant Sunrisers' Indian pace attack comprised of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed. Somewhat surprisingly, it was Khaleel, and not Sandeep, who shared the new ball with Bhuvneshwar. Sandeep was introduced into the attack only in the eighth over. Bayliss explained the logic behind the move.
"In our practice matches, Khaleel was one of our best bowlers; he was getting the ball to move around. He's a little bit taller [than Sandeep] and we felt the ball was sort of sticking in the wicket for tall bowlers. And he basically bowled well. It was one of those things, trying to fit three new-ball bowlers into two [slots] and today we went with Khaleel, which meant Sandy had to play a little bit different role."