An IPL debut against his idol Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a "fanboy" moment for young Delhi Capitals batsman Ripal Patel, who said the talismanic Chennai Super Kings skipper inspired him to pursue cricket.
The 26-year-old made his IPL debut against CSK in a winning cause on Monday. He made only 18 runs off 20 balls but the youngster said a welcome chat with Dhoni at the end of the game made his day and elevated his confidence.
"It was a different feeling altogether to see Mahi bhai behind the stumps when I took guard. It felt really good that Mahi bhai was watching me play. I started playing cricket watching Mahi bhai and I am looking to become a finisher like him," Patel was quoted as saying in a release issued by his franchise DC.
"After the game, I asked him how he finishes every match, how he thinks on the field and what goes on in his mind while chasing a score. We had a good chat and he gave me a lot of confidence."
Asked about his emotions when he received the Delhi Capitals cap before the game, he said: "I was really happy when I received my cap from Mishy bhai (Amit Mishra). It didn't feel like it was my first match. I felt really good going into the match. I just looked to back myself and enjoy every part of the game. When I went into bat (at 71/3), we needed to score at a run-a-ball pace. I aimed to finish the match for the team. Shikhar bhai (Dhawan) told me to take my time at the crease, so I took my time and enjoyed my batting." Ripal also enjoyed watching Kagiso Rabada finish the match with a boundary in the last over.
"It was very important for us to win the match. It was a crunch situation when we needed 2 runs from 3 balls. We were looking for a couple of runs and it was great to see Rabada hit a boundary.I was disappointed that I didn't finish the match, but it was great that the team won and reached 20 points."