HYDERABAD: Pune Warriors India and Sunrisers Hyderabad (the erstwhile Deccan Chargers) are two teams who’ve scraped the bottom of the pool for much of their existences in the Indian Premier League. In 2012, they’d finished ninth and eighth respectively. Looking at their collective batting today, there didn’t seem to be any evidence that they’ll improve a great deal in 2013.
However, Hyderabad finished the game, their first under a new management, smelling of roses thanks to a tidy bowling effort initiated by Amit Mishra and capped off by the irreplaceable Dale Steyn
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has traditionally favoured batsmen. Today the wicket was sluggish. Hyderabad's Thisara Perera’s 30 turned out to be the highest score of the day, but this was less due to the pitch and more due to the collective batting frailties of both teams. The target of 127 was achievable, and to finish 22 runs short in a low-scoring season opener is a bad omen for Pune.
Man to man, Pune were far stronger than Hyderabad, who’ve never quite been able to rebuild the awesome core of superstars they once had. Pune had Ross Taylor, Marlon Samuels, Yuvraj Singh, Angelo Matthews, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar – a group of players actively playing international cricket. This group was flanked by the formidable support group of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Marsh, Abhishek Nayar and Rahul Sharma – players on the fringes of international cricket. Yet this strong group was thoroughly outplayed by Kumar Sangakkara’s team that had just four active international cricketers serviced by a rag-tag group of domestic players.
For Pune, it could be a case of being led poorly. In the two years of their existence, they’ve enjoyed the services of talented players, but the results haven’t showed. There is some amount of dissonance in the pursuits of their players – an indicator that they’re not clear what they’re after. This was best characterised today by two ugly shots played by Pune’s batsmen late in the day.
With skipper Angelo Matthews at the other end, Bhuvaneshwar and then Rahul Sharma tried to play big shots against Steyn of all bowlers and lost their stumps. An opportunity was missed here by Matthews to tell his tail-enders to turn over the strike to him and let him attempt the lofted hits. Better communication from the team leadership, particularly during delicate situations such as this, may yield better results for Pune.
For Hyderabad, it was a jail-break at the end as Pune lost their last six wickets for 21 runs. As Sangakkara told his team in a huddle after the win, this is a time to stay grounded and focus on winning some more games. Hyderabad, through their previous owners, made more news for their assortment of management problems rather than their performances on the field. It’s time their cricket did the talking.