For two seasons in a row, Pune Warriors India got off to a winning start before going on to finish second last and last in 2011 and 2012 Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons respectively.
In 2013, PWI lost their low scoring opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and now the Pune fans are hoping that this could actually be a good omen. And all the good things that fans are expecting to happen could well begin on Sunday afternoon when Angelo Matthews’ men meet Kings XI Punjab in their first home game of the season.
The Pune pitch was the centre point of a number of controversies last season, with a few visiting captains declaring the pitch as “unfit” for T20 cricket. Twelve months have gone by, and the pitch has naturally become a bit more solid than what it was in its first year. It would really be interesting to see what kind of pitch is on offer for PWI, especially considering the fact that they have a number of power-hitters in their ranks.
The pitch played slow and low last season, making it difficult to play strokes. In the recent past, where the West zone one-day tournament matches were played here, no team could get past 250-run mark. Things were slightly better in one of PWI’s practice games last week, where 165 runs were scored by the side batting first.
“Going by the practice wickets, they are a lot solid than last season. We are certainly hoping to get a wicket where the ball comes on to the bat,” PWI head coach Allan Donald said. Kings XI Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist, before declaring himself ‘not an expert in reading the pitch’ said, “It definitely is not looking as slow and low as last season.”
Irrespective of the pitch conditions, PWI would need to bat a lot more positively than their show in Hyderabad on Friday. “As a batting unit, we choked against Hyderabad. We could have been more positive in our approach while batting. We would like to admit it, and move on,” PWI captain Angelo Matthews said on the eve of the game.
Last season, PWI beat Kings XI Punjab in their season opener at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium. Now it would be interesting to see if they can repeat that showing with a squad that, at least on paper, looks a lot stronger than last year.