Our first target would be to finish among the top four - Sourav Ganguly
In their inaugural season last year, Pune Warriors India finished ninth among 10 teams, just ahead of Delhi Daredevils -- who are now the new favourites in the money-spinning league. With a line-up that includes Virender Sehwag, Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen, Ross Taylor and David Warner (to join later), Daredevils on flat Indian pitches are turning out to be a nightmare for bowlers. However, Delhi were put to sword by Warriors, and by one Sourav Ganguly in particular, on April 21 at Kotla. Sehwag and KP threatened to take the game away from Pune but the man with the golden arm -- Dada -- ensured that they made it much more difficult for Delhi and its skipper to score through the gaps.
The home team -- chasing 193 runs -- were in control needing 106 from 66 balls until Sourav came along in the 10th over. The former Indian skipper struck with his first ball, getting rid of Pietersen for 32 and the celebration that followed had to be seen to believed. With his thinning hair flying backwards, Ganguly ran half a mile before being mobbed by his team-mates.
Flashback: remember the famous shirtless celebration at the historical Lord's balcony in 2002 after India's thrilling win over England in the Natwest series. Maybe it was the ‘Englishman’ factor that prompted him here again. What made it more remarkable was that this was his first ball in competitive cricket since 2010 – and what a game-changer it turned out to be. Pune defeated Delhi Daredevils by 20 runs in their own den. This may be the last time you see Dada storming through a field like a mad bull -- on the field.
But really, venting one’s feelings after a good or bad incident on the field is now passe. The frustration of not getting a wicket -- in Virat Kohli's case, getting a century -- demands a certain degree of frustration but not a full-fleged 'b*******', when you are aware the cameras are watching you. True, people can make their own choices of what to watch but cricketers in India are followed wildly with or without success. I would rather have them snarky and clever than hear them just throw f-bombs at regular intervals.
You misfield, you curse. You field well, you curse. You take a wicket, you curse. You don't take a wicket, you curse. You score a century, you curse. You score a half-century, you curse there too. You get run out; you abuse the hell out of your partner. It's like one of those bad Chinese movies with a lot of sex scenes that have nothing to do with the plot.
"Sourav was behaving like he was a 32-year old man. I have played under Sourav for 10 years and I know everything about him and he knows everything about me," said Virender Sehwag during the presentation ceremony standing alongside Ganguly who said, "When you get a wicket, it is relief, not happiness. We have played well in this tournament and everyone has chipped in. Pietersen's wicket was a relief as he was hitting the ball pretty hard."
What is evidently clear, however, is this: Warriors, in the midst of a fiercely contested season seem to be enjoying their brand of cricket, and importantly under the combined coaching experience of Ganguly, ex-South Africa paceman Allan Donald, former India batsman Praveen Amre and Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning and high performance coach.
"Ganguly played really well. He brought himself on at a crucial time and got those two wickets. It was pretty gutsy from him," said Australian Steven Smith. The handy all-rounder was dropped from all three formats and is working extra hard to regain his place back in the Australian setup.
We know that the Warriors had almost no time to prepare for the mega event, and they have to be applauded for how well they've coped up so far. It is, after all, only another peculiarity of the new, rejuvenated and maybe frustrated (for being robbed of Eden Gardens) Ganguly that is keeping his horde focused and determined.
Ganguly's third over -- the 14th of the match -- read 1,0,0,2 and also featured a catch dropped by Angelo Mathews off Pawan Negi at cover region. It was a sitter. Dada was furious; he looked at Angelo, uttered some words with head down (I could only make out 'f***') and was ready to bowl again. Negi, who was desperate to give it away, didn't last long and was run out by Mathews the next ball. The celebration, this time, was a quieter one much like Dhoni's.
Mumbai Indians pacer Munaf Patel has already been reprimand twice for indecent behaviour. He was fined 25 per cent of his match fee and received an official warning for altercation with umpire during their match against Deccan Chargers and was then fined 50 per cent of his match fee for making offensive gestures to Kings XI Punjab players at Wankhede, most recently. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was also warned for using offensive language during their match against Rajasthan Royals.
Whatever happened to the gentleman's game?
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