Going gets tough for Ganguly’s Pune Warriors

From Sunil Gavaskar

 Pune Warriors have stumbled a bit in their quest for a place in the last four of the tournament. They had begun well, but having lost to Deccan Chargers twice they have now made it harder for themselves. The Chargers were the team most other teams were looking to garner points as well as a good net run rate, but the Pune Warriors made a hash of both their matches against them. Perhaps, it was overconfidence, but this game teaches you that no team or individual should be underestimated and the Pune team, hopefully have learnt the lessons. They had Michael Clarke coming in straight after a long flight, but the Australian skipper, showed no ill effects or any jet lag as he stroked his way stylishly in a productive partnership with Sourav Ganguly. What the Pune team is lacking is a quick start especially in the first six overs when the field restrictions are in place. It is in these overs that teams should be looking to be at least 50 to 60 runs on the board. Then in the next overs with wickets in hand they can aim for another 120 runs and have a good total on the board. Pune must also show a bit more faith in its regular bowlers. Murali Kartik plays so many T20 events that he is used to being under attack and is thus ready and prepared, and therefore a better prospect than a non regular bowler, especially when the attack is under the kosh. The last five overs in their Cuttack game cost the Pune Warriors the game. Michael Clarke, who had bowled the Australians to a win with his left arm spin just a few days earlier, could have been tried out since he would have been confident about bowling.

The Mumbai Indians have stopped the losing streak with a win at their home ground, but they too are not looking as solid as they did last year and here again it is the start that is failing them. Richard Levi was cleaned up by Dale Steyn and that put a lot of pressure on Tendulkar, who after missing a few matches through the finger injury has not yet struck form. Ambati Rayudu once again played a good hand and unlike last season when he was more of a first innings batsman, he is now showing that he can take the pressure of a chase and get his team across the line. In the kind of form he is in and the confidence flowing, from that he should get more overs to bat.

Delhi have gone right to the top with a facile win over the Rajasthan Royals, who seemed to be a touch demoralized after their narrow loss in their previous encounter against the Delhi boys. Virender Sehwag is in prime form and every time he bats for more than half the overs his team will have a big score on board. They are the team to beat at the moment, but nobody seems to know how to do it.