Kolkata: Trying to put up a brave face after suffering a humiliating nine-wicket loss against Kolkata Knight Riders in their IPL 9 opener, Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan has said that it was just a "bad day" in office for his side.
The new-look Daredevils, who are yet to go past the last four stage in IPL's eight seasons, slumped to their seventh sub-100 total after being skittled out for 98, a target the Knight Riders overwhelmed with consummate ease in 14.1 overs at Eden Gardens on Sunday night.
But Zaheer said it would be wrong to write the Daredevils off in the tournament that had just begun.
"Well, I'm smiling. I know it's been a tough day out there for us but it was just one bad day. It's just the beginning of the season, and I hope things will come along. Good things are in store," Zaheer said at the post-match press conference.
"It's a long tournament and I'm sure every team will have a bad day. It does happen sometimes. Hopefully for us that day is out of the way and we're looking ahead for the remaining league matches.
"We will stay together and turn things around. It's going to be a long season, it's too early to think about anything," he maintained.
The Daredevils batting department failed to last the distance as they were bowled out in 17.4 overs.
But Zaheer backed his underfire batting unit to come good.
"I'm just happy with the way the boys have carried themselves on the field. The way the bowlers showed intent of taking wickets," he said.
"I'm very very happy with the energy and intensity showed by the boys on the field. This is how we're going to approach the season. This is a young team. This energy is we're looking at this format. We will create opportunities."
To the surprise of many, the Daredevils ignored South African duo of Imran Tahir and JP Duminy on a slow Eden surface but Zaheer said he is happy with the team combination.
"Duminy was not available. But we're happy with the combination. There's no second thoughts on it. It was a tough day and we accept that," he said.
Quinton de Kock and Mayank Agarwal had given Daredevils a brisk start , putting up 23 runs in just two overs before Andre Russell (3/24) sparked the collapse with a twin breakthrough, while John Hastings (2/6) tightened the screws at the other end.
Later, spin duo of Brad Hogg (3/19) and Piyush Chawla (2/21) made it all the more difficult as the Daredevils batsmen struggled to build a partnership.
"Sometime you do get caught up in the T20 format. That's what happens while batting first, you always chase that big number. These things can happen. You learn new things every day. I'm very confident our young batting side will go a long way in this tournament. I'm very happy with the way we have prepared this season. We will come good definitely. Scores will come I've full faith in our batters," Zaheer said.
He also lauded KKR bowlers for their superb show.
"They hit the right areas and held it together. I'm happy to see this kind of wicket. You have to give credit where it's deserved. After the first two overs, KKR bowlers really, really held it together and put pressure back on us," Zaheer said.
Making a comeback after a year, Zaheer, who last played competitive cricket in 2015 IPL, said he was happy to be back.
"It's good to be back. I was trying a bit too much but you learn everyday. I was out there on the field after a long time. With a low total to defend, you try too much as a bowler. I was looking for that extra swing for a left-hander which I was not getting. Overall, I'm with happy to be out there," the former India pace spearhead said.
Zaheer also said that Mohammed Shami was fit and available for selection.
"He's (Shami) doing well at the nets. He's prepared well. I'm very confident of him. He's very positive."
The Daredevils will next play Kings XI Punjab at home on 15 April.