(Eds: Adding Axar Patel's quotes)
Chennai, Apr 23 (PTI) All-rounder Axar Patel has rejoined the Delhi Capitals squad after recovering from COVID-19 and said that getting to meet his teammates after a 20-day quarantine comes a close second to his Test debut as the "best moment" of his life.
The 27-year-old had initially checked into the Capitals' team hotel on March 28 in Mumbai with a negative test report but he returned positive for the dreaded infection on April 3 and was transferred to the BCCI's designated medical facility with mild symptoms.
"It has been really great to come out of quarantine after 20 days and meet my teammates. This is the best moment in my life after my Test debut," Axar was quoted as saying in a media release from DC.
The left-arm spinner added that watching his IPL side win most of its matches kept him motivated.
"I was alone in my room for 20 days and I didn't have anything to do. I was watching the matches and one good thing was that our team won most of the matches, so I got even more motivated to re-join the side," he added.
Earlier, the Delhi Capitals posted a video of Axar meeting his teammates in the camp.
"Smiles and hugs all around as Bapu returned to the DC camp," the franchise posted.
"Aadmi dekh ke hi toh mujhe maza aa raha hai (I'm getting joy just by seeing people)," Patel said in the video.
Axar attended his first training session with the team on Wednesday and the all-rounder said he is not pushing himself too hard at the moment.
"I have started batting and bowling practice, but I haven't pushed too hard during training.
"I have spoken to the doctors about how I should go about my training, and I am carrying out my practice according to their suggestions."
When asked about the directions given to him by skipper Rishabh Pant and head coach Ricky Ponting, Axar said, "Rishabh and Ricky sir have told me to train keeping in mind about how my body is reacting to practice drills in the next two-three days.
"We are not thinking ahead too much at the moment, we are just focusing on how my body is reacting to training sessions."
Axar was the second IPL player to get infected by the virus after Royal Challengers Bangalore opener Devdutt Padikkal.
There have also been a couple of incidents of false positives in the tournament.
Axar's DC teammate, South African pacer Anrich Nortje, had to spend extended time in quarantine due to a false positive result for COVID-19.
Nitish Rana had also tested positive after joining the Kolkata Knight Riders camp but his next RT-PCR result turned out to be negative.
In Axar's absence, the Capitals had roped in young Mumbai left-arm spinner Shams Mulani as IPL's first short-term COVID-19 replacement.
The Capitals are slated to take on Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Sunday. PTI APA PM