Preview: Deccan vs Pune, Match 53

May 10, 2011

It is not the best time to be a player for the Deccan Chargers or the Pune Warriors. With just 3 wins from 10 games and a negative Net Run Rate, they have no chance of qualifying for the final four. And yet the players will have to turn up, find motivation from somewhere and give a good performance. They players will doubtless find it a little hard to be geared up for a battle when the war has been lost.

Deccan Chargers:

The Chargers can consider themselves unlucky to be on the receiving end of a Virender Sehwag special in their previous match. They were not beaten by a team – they were beaten by one man. They had done most things right in that match, but they didn’t catch the chances that Sehwag offered and paid dearly for that. It is often the little things that swing matches, especially in T20 cricket where there is no time to recover from an error, and the Chargers must pick themselves up, for professional pride if nothing else.

The continued presence of Cameron White in the starting eleven of the Chargers remains a mystery though. In five innings White has scored 89 runs at a strike rate of 91.75 – which is far too low for T20 cricket.

Deccan have Michael Lumb and Rusty Theron sitting on the bench, and should consider giving at least one of them a game this time. They also left out Pragyan Ojha, who had looked like coming back to his best form and the lack of big-name Indian batting talent isn’t helping them, especially when the big name overseas talent has not quite delivered the goods.

Pune Warriors:

Yuvraj Singh is still at a loss to explain his side’s poor season and he has reason to be so. With the kind of side Pune have, it defies belief that they have lost seven matches in a row and are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon in the competition. The Warriors will be hoping that their win against Punjab meant they have turned the corner. That they have a very good side on paper is beyond question. However, somehow the team as not settled well enough and good performances have come as solos rather than as part of a team-effort.

They also need to rethink some strategies, chief among them being the continued promotion of Manish Pandey up the order. Ever since his whirlwind century in the IPL in 2009, Pandey has done little of note in IPLs. He hasn’t managed to score with urgency and his strike-rate after 6 innings is just 103. That causes Pune to lose valuable momentum up the order and they need to send someone else to partner Jesse Ryder at the top of the order. Pune should also persist with sending Robin Uthappa up the order and have it as written that Yuvraj must come in the top 4, to make best use of their most powerful resources.

Captains Battle:

Both captains – Yuvraj and Sangakkkara – are ex-team-mates from the Kings XI Punjab. Incidentally, Punjab co-habits the bottom of the table with Pune and Deccan. Both have unpleasant memories of the last IPL, with Punjab finishing bottom and will be desperate to avoid that for a second time.

In Focus:

Rahul Sharma has easily been amongst the finds of IPL 2011. He has the best economy rate in the entire competition (minimum 10 overs), and to have done that in a losing team is special achievement indeed. He also has picked up wickets and regularly troubled the best of batsman. To top it all, he is an ex-Deccan Chargers player. He’ll be itching to show his old franchise what they have missed.

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