Zaheer: 'We can still make the play-offs'

Mathematically, Delhi Daredevils still has a slim chance of progressing in the competition provided it wins its remaining three games.

Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan shakes hands with his Mumbai Indians counterpart Rohit Sharma.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Delhi Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan insists his team can still make the play-offs despite the drubbing it received at the hands of table-topper Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

Mathematically, Delhi still has a slim chance of progressing in the competition provided it wins its remaining three games.

After Saturday’s 146-run loss, Delhi is sixth in the points table with four wins and seven losses.

“We still have a chance. We need to win. You can always talk about the points table but the first thing is that we need to win. We need to regroup as quickly as possible, we got a three day break coming up, that will help us regroup and come back stronger,” said Zaheer after his team was bowled out for 66, its lowest total this season.

The heavy loss had come after back-to-back successful chases at the Feroz Shah Kotla, raising hopes of revival for the Daredevils.

“Nine days back nobody was giving us a chance (in the tournament). Today you are talking about play offs. Surely, it is going to go down to the wire. We need to stay positive, the mindset is critical. We will be doing the same things that we have done in the past,” said the former India pacer.

It was the second time this season that Delhi was bowled out for a sub-70 total but Zaheer defended his batsmen.

“It was a good Delhi wicket to bat on. Basically, when you are chasing 200 plus, you have to go for it from ball one."

"As a batting unit you have to do things which have been working for you. I don’t think there was anything wrong in terms of approach. It was one of those days we couldn’t get going,” said the captain referring to team’s chases of 208 and 185 in the previous two games.

Delhi has not reached the play-offs since 2012 and was amongst the laggards the last four editions. However, Zaheer thinks the team is improving.

“It is about building a squad and that has been going well for us. You can see that with the kind of atmosphere in the dressing room, the energy on the field. We are consciously working on it,” he said.

“T20 format is such that you have to get the momentum and stay on top. If you look at the team graph, it has been going upwards in the last three four years. It is just the little things need work and it will happen in due course.”

For Mumbai Indians, the stars of the night were the West Indian duo of Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons, who delivered in his very first match of the season with a 43-ball 66.

Simmons, who replaced Jos Buttler at the top of the order, admitted it was frustrating to sit on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t say pressure but it was frustrating not to play. So I was just preparing to be ready whenever the opportunity comes. I enjoy batting in India, the wickets are really good for batting,” said Simmons.

He also credited the Mumbai Indians support staff for the improvement in his batting.

“One thing I must say is that even if I am not playing, I get to bat a lot at the nets. The supporting staff has been good, Robin Singh especially gives me lot of advice. Back home we don’t have good wickets like we have them in India, so that also makes a difference.”

On the big win against Delhi, Simmons added: “First of all, we did not think we would bat first. They had chased 200 twice in the previous games. We took early wickets in the chase and it worked for us. That is why we were able to finish early.”

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