NEW DELHI: His whirlwind 82 brought Delhi Daredevils agonisingly close to victory and Chris Morris termed it as his "best innings in T20 cricket" but said it was "upsetting" to eventually go down by one-run against Gujarat Lions during an IPL match here.
Coming out to bat at a difficult time with Daredevils tottering at 57-4 in 10.4 overs while chasing a challenging 173, Morris blasted 82 off just 32 balls studded with four boundaries and eight sixes. He notched up his fifty in just 17 balls, the fastest half century of the season.
The South African shared 87 runs for the fifth wicket with country-mate JP Duminy (48 off 43 balls) to take Daredevils on the brink of a sensational win before experienced Praveen Kumar and Dwayne Bravo produced brilliant final two overs to restrict Daredevils to 171 for five.
"It probably was my best innings in T20 cricket. I could have missed a straight one first ball and looked like an absolute idiot but it was just one of those days for me when I got going from ball one. It was upsetting we lost but tomorrow sun will again come up," he said at the post-match press conference late last night.
"There was a lot of pressure. We need almost 13 an over when I came out to bat. Before I came out to bat I told myself 'give yourself one or two'. It was quote obvious what we needed to do. I just played my natural game. If the ball is in my zone any day I would have gone after it even if we need five an over. It's just the way I play my game. Luckily it worked today."
Morris said it was a good wicket to bat on and they were targeting short boundaries and not any particular bowler during the chase. He also praised Duminy for lending him support from the other end.
"We targeted the short boundary more than the bowlers. Like I said it was quite a good wicket. JP (Duminy) played hell of a knock in terms of rotating the strike and hitting his zones. Unfortunately he got out at a vital point of the game. Like I said if the ball is in our zone we will go after it no matter who the bowler is," he said.
Daredevils skipper Zaheer Khan's decision to put the opposition in after winning the toss backfired as openers Brendon McCullum (60 off 36) and Dwayne Smith (53 off 30) played explosive knocks before Daredevils bowlers pulled things back to some extent to restrict Gujarat Lions to 172 for six.
The way McCullum and Smith were going at one stage, Gujarat were well on course for a 200 plus total. But Delhi bowlers, especially Imran Tahir (3/24) and Morris (2/35) bowled well in the middle overs to keep the total under check.
"We were bowling to two of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket to be honest. If those two get going you can see what they can do. I thought they played beautifully. We gave them a few too many loose balls but that's the game of cricket. If you could bowl perfect six balls every time then you will be a legend. At the end of the day it was quite a good wicket and a serious game of cricket. Unfortunately we lost and that's quite upsetting," Morris said.
Morris also came out in support of his skipper Zaheer, who was taken to task by McCullum and Smith yesterday.
"That guy (Zaheer) is a genius. The way Zak's brain works is brilliant. It could have been a different day for Zak. Zak went for four off the first ball and he induced a nick that went between the keeper and slip fielder. When Zak makes a decision I back him 100 per cent. That's the reason he is the captain and that's the reason he has got so many wickets."
Morris, who turns 29 on Saturday, praised the back room combination of Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton, who were so far instrumental in turning Delhi's fortunes around this season.
"That's the genius of Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton. They give you a lot of space to grow as a person. As a cricketer they let you grow as much as possible. They give you something to do about. They are brilliant together."
Meanwhile, Gujarat Lions pacer Praveen Kumar, who bowled a sensational penultimate over and conceded just four runs off the 18 needed in the final two overs, said he just focussed on bowling to his strengths.
"The plan was to bowl as much dot balls as possible to increase the run rate and create pressure on their batsmen. My mindset was simple. My strength is that I can bowl good Yorkers and that's what was going on in my mind. You need to bowl according to your strength and my strength is yorkers," said Praveen, who gave away just 13 runs from his four overs but without any success.
Out of the national team reckoning for a while now, Praveen accepted that a comeback is in his minds but what is more important for him is to contribute in his side's victory in any cicket match.
"I take every match seriously. I play normally in every match whether it's IPL, domestic cricket or a match in my neighbourhood. I always try to give my best and contribute in the team's win. Yeah every cricketer thinks of making a comeback but I am satisfied with the fact that I am bowling well and the team is winning," he said.
Asked why Ravindra Jadeja was not utilised after the left-arm spinner conceded 14 runs in his only over of the match yesterday, Praveen said: "There was plenty of dew in the ground and the fast bowlers were bowling well so our plan was to bowl more with the pacers. Spinners were not getting much turn with the ball. Even (Suresh) Raina tried two overs but the ball was skidding more because of dew."