Pune, April 17 -- How quickly equations change in T20 cricket would be evident again when Pune Warriors take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in their return leg at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Wednesday.
Pune, who were struggling to find the right combination given their poor start to the season, are suddenly finding it difficult to pick the four overseas players out of the available lot after the upset win over Chennai Super Kings on Monday. The ongoing protest against Sri Lanka players in Tamil Nadu meant the Warriors took on the mighty CSK without skipper Angelo Mathews in Chennai. Although Mathews has failed to justify his spot so far, he is likely to be given a longer run to prove his credentials.
Looking out of sorts since he was handed the captaincy, the Sri Lanka skipper has failed miserably to do justice to the tag of all-rounder. He came under the scanner against Mumbai Indians when he failed to use his bowling resources intelligently, allowing the hosts to go berserk.
With Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh not clicking, Mathews will be an automatic choice. But that alone may not guarantee him the leader's role given Pune's record of having had five captains since inception in 2011.
Ideally, a captain would be happy if a number of players are vying for a spot in the playing eleven, but not when his own place is shaky.
The absence of Sri Lanka players proved a blessing in disguise for Pune in Chennai as Steven Smith, who had been warming the bench, took the spot vacated by his skipper on Monday night.
The Australia player, one the most successful batsmen for Pune last season, grabbed the opportunity with both hands, hammering 39 off 16 balls that earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.
Another Aussie all-rounder, Aaron Finch, who had replaced his injured compatriot Michael Clarke, has also done enough since his debut against Rajasthan Royals, where his 64 off 53 balls helped his team break their losing streak. He again came up with a match-winning performance against CSK the other night to cement his place in the team.
Former New Zealand skipper Ross Taylor might not have proven his worth so far in the tournament but it will be too early to write off a player of his calibre.
Sunrisers, on the other hand, have been the surprise packet. A team in disarray after the Deccan franchise was terminated by the Board, they have bounced back well as the new franchise. They have won three of their five outings, something that few would have predicted.
However, their two losses came away from home and their priority would be to reverse that record.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.