NAVI MUMBAI: Pacer Shardul Thakur credited his success against Punjab Kings to his decision to mix up deliveries, which paid rich dividends during the "big win" that kept Delhi Capitals in the IPL play-off race.
Spinners Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav were inspirational in the middle overs even as Shardul complemented the duo with career-best IPL figures as DC beat Punjab by 17 runs to climb to the fourth spot in the points table.
Invited to bat, DC posted 159 for 7 courtesy Mitchell Marsh's 48-ball 63 and then restricted Punjab to 142 for 9. Thakur (4/36), Axar (2/14) and Kuldeep (2/14) shared eight wickets among them while Anrich Nortje got the important wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
"There was a difference in both the side boundaries, but there was dew and it was humid, so I felt they could hit a six on the bigger side (boundary). So the better idea was to mix up deliveries and confuse the batter."
"Along with the knuckleball, use an off-cutter for a left-hander, then seam-up, slow-bouncer or bouncer or use the hard length," Shardul said at the post-match press conference.
Shardul lauded his colleagues in the bowling department, saying frequent wickets always kept Punjab under the pump during their chase.
" The scenario was completely different. Yes, if there was no dew 160 would have been a great score, but with dew coming in after 12 overs and probably eight overs in the end, they (Punjab) could have used the dew factor to their advantage if they had wickets in hand." But, credit goes to the bowling unit that we kept on taking wickets and at the same time the chase kept getting bigger and bigger for them," he said.
The pacer from Palghar believes they lacked momentum at the start of the tournament but Monday's win kept them very much in the reckoning.
"We didn't get the momentum in the starting matches but we still aren]t out of the race (to make the play-offs) and today's win was a big win. We have a match on 21st (May) and let's see how it goes." Shardul also conceded that the middle-order of both teams struggled on Monday.
"And if you compare Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals, both of our middle order struggled today, probably there was something in the pitch that didn't allow the batters to score enough runs after six overs," he said.
Shardul feels DC's fielding has improved in the last three to four games. "I do not think we lacked in fielding, we were lacking on the field in the first 10 games but since the last three-four games, we are improving a lot in the field."
With this win, DC jumped a place to fourth with 14 points from 13 matches.DC will take on already-out Mumbai Indians in their final match on May 21 in Mumbai.