What is it about Pune Warriors and defeats? They have played 14 matches so far and have ended up on the wrong side in as many as 12 of those games. Saturday against the Mumbai Indians at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune was the latest occasion. Right through this season, batting has been their biggest bane, and the story was no different against a rampant Mumbai. Most of the big guns in the Pune batting line-up once again came unstuck and, in the end, their defeat was on expected lines.
Pune were in a decent position at one stage, with Manish Pandey and Yuvraj Singh featuring in a steadying partnership. But, either side of their alliance, it was all disaster for the hosts, and this is what cost them the match. Batting first, Pune were hoping for a good start from Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa, but they disappointed yet again. Yes, bot have got a few reasonable scores in the series, but as a pair they haven’t succeeded, which has made things very difficult for the middle and lower order, which itself hasn’t been up to scratch.
Since Pandey and Yuvraj got starts, it was imperative for them to carry on, knowing a lot cannot be expected of the others. But, both disappointed, getting out after being well set. If at least one of them had carried on to play a bigger score, Pune might have ended up with a better score than they eventually did. Instead, after the loss of Pandey and Yuvraj, they collapsed, rather expectedly, which put Mumbai right on top. In the context, Angelo Mathews’run out without scoring was also significant. Abhisek Nayar and Kane Richardson also couldn’t do anything enhance their reputation.
While Pune were poor with the bat, it must be mentioned that the pitch was a difficult one to score on. At the same time, it is fact that Mumbai exploited the conditions as well as Pune’s lack of confidence brilliantly. Mitchell Johnson was stunning to say the least. His figures of 2 for 8 from four overs say it all. As he has often done in the earlier games, the left-arm seamer got the early breakthrough. In an amazing performance, he just did not allow the Pune batsmen to get any sort of momentum. Harbhajan Singh bowled an equally brilliant spell. He maintained a tight leash on the batsmen and, more importantly, picked the big wicket of Yuvraj. Lasith Malinga and Abu Nechim also chipped in with wickets.
Pune did put up a fight with the ball. Ashok Dinda, who has been an embarrassment, came up with a superb delivery to dismiss Dwayne Smith first ball. For a change, even Ajantha Mendis was effective, sending back Sachin Tendulkar. Pune kept getting wickets at regular intervals, but Mumbai knew that they only needed one decent partnership to get home. Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu featured in the alliance that Mumbai were looking for and, in the end, the visitors got home without much trouble.
Turning point of the game: Pune collapsing from 84 for 2 to 85 for 5.
--By A Cricket Analyst