Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting says losing four matches on the trot before bouncing back in the last league match of IPL was the "hardest thing" to endure, but maintaining confidence of the players during the barren run did the trick. 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 play-offs due to their deteriorating net-run-rate.
But they got their act together in the nick of time, beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets on Monday to ensure a top-two finish in the IPL table. "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 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.
The Delhi Capitals dished out an all-round performance against the Virat Kohli-led RCB. "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."
DC will now have two shots to reach the finals of the tournament. They will lock horns with the defending champions and table toppers Mumbai Indians in the first qualifiers on Thursday. "I am most proud because it was do-or-die, and the boys knew that and they responded in a really positive manner," said the former Australia captain.
"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.
Speaking about his team's record at Abu Dhabi where they won only their first match on Monday, 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 of 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.
On the challenges of living inside the bio-secure bubble, Ponting said it has been hard for 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 of 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."