First things first. Did Captain Cool become complacent a little too early in this edition? Agreed, it’s always nice to experiment with the weaker oppositions so that when the tournament progresses, you would have figured out the winning combination. But what makes one wonder is why Mr. Cricket has to be rested and Anirudha Srikkanth has to be asked to open the innings? Anirudha playing in his first match this edition was always going to find Bhuvi’s swingers tough to handle in the initial overs and this move would have cost the CSK dearly. And the man who replaced Hussey was Albie Morkel. No doubt Albie has been a great servant for CSK in the past, but what was Dhoni thinking when he was playing with 3 overseas all-rounders? If someone like Mitchell Johnson can pop a lot of questions to the PWI batsmen in the previous match, why not go ahead with another pacer in Hilfenhaus? And if Albie has to come in at No.8 and not bowl a single over, why wasn’t he asked to open the innings? Someone who had come from South Africa just after playing in the Ram Slam T-20 final would have been a safer bet than the not so experienced Anirudha. To put it very simple, if Albie was fit to play, he should have been utilized completely and definitely not just as a No.8 batsman. And if the CSK spinners gave away only 51 runs out of their 8 overs, why was Raina not asked to roll his arm over? And a sincere request to MSD on behalf of all the CSK fans: “Sir, we know that you always love to finish the games in the final over if not the final ball, however it doesn’t work always. We, the CSK fans are always proud to be a part of the yellow brigade. But, please don’t give us heart attacks every time you walk out with our team to the middle. It’s absolutely great that we have learnt the lesson the harder way so early in the tourney as it is only the 4th match and we all know that we will bounce back and bounce back stronger. Till then, #WhistlePodu will continue. We still are the team to beat. So, Chin Up Captain.”
And where did the Pune Warriors get it right? Right from winning the toss, everything went right for the stand-in skipper, Ross Taylor. I always felt that it will be great for PWI if Robin and Aaron can provide them with a solid start and they stitched together a 96 run stand for the opening wicket. With hitters like Taylor & Smith to follow, the openers had set the perfect launch pad for the assault. And Smith didn’t disappoint. Scoring 39 runs with a strike rate of more than 240 was the cherry on top of the PWI innings. Bhuvanesh Kumar came up with a brilliant spell of 2-12 in 4 overs. Smith had a brilliant match with his batting & fielding and Finch gave them a superb start, but Bhuvi would be my “Man of the Match”. With an economy rate of 3 RPO against CSK, (don’t forget the venue of the match) he should have got it. Though MSD was in the wrong side after the match, he would have been definitely happy with the way Bhuvi bowled (looks like he has got his seat booked for the South Africa tour). Let’s not forget the captaincy of Taylor. Asking Bhuvi to bowl 3 overs in the start was a great move. Remember Mathews pulling out his strike bowler after just 1 over against MI? Getting his best fielders in the right positions and getting Smith to come up at No.4 were some sparks of his great captaincy skills. Overall, the Pune team fought like true warriors and tamed the lions in their own den. I have predicted that the absence of Mathews would be a blessing in disguise for the warriors and it happened exactly the same way. If PWI can maintain this combination and Yuvi coming in for Pandey in the upcoming matches, they can give the other teams a run for their money.
Before the match, I have predicted an easy victory for the CSK. But the beauty of T-20 cricket is that, on their day the minnows can beat the masters and that’s what unfolded today.