A skipper is a certainty to start every game, fitness permitting, in all the sports generally. Perhaps the only exception is Indian Premier League, especially with a foreigner leading the side. Pune Warriors India could well be trying that option today against Sunrisers Hyderabad. What is not clear yet though is which of the two skippers who have led PWI this season so far faces the axe for the Warriors’ third home game of the season.
With Lankan players not allowed to play in Chennai, Ross Taylor replaced full time skipper Angelo Matthews for PWI’s stunning win over Chennai Super Kings in an away game on Monday. And the Kiwi looks the more likely candidate of the two to face the axe against Sunrisers.
The other three foreigners, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh, have performed well enough to earn their place in the playing XI. Out of the three games Finch has played so far, he has scored two half-centuries, both proving to be crucial in PWI scoring win. Steve Smith, PWI’s best player last season, got his first game of the season on Monday, and won the Man-of-the-Match award for his brilliant 39 not out. He was also superb in the field, taking three catches. His two wickets against CSK was one of the crucial factors in PWI’s win.
That effectively leaves the choice for the fourth and final slot for a foreign player between Taylor and Matthews. Both have failed to play any impact knock so far this season. Taylor, who has batted at No 3 in three of the five games, has scores of 17, 4, 8. Matthews has hardly been better with scores of 8, 4, 1 not out, 19. Perhaps one thing that can be argued in the Sri Lankan skipper’s favour is he has batted at No 6, which gives him much lesser time to bat.
Another thing that goes in Matthews’ favour is his medium pace bowling. He has regularly bowled in powerplay overs, and has never conceded more than eight runs per over in any of the four games.
“Matthews is our captain for the season. We have just played five games so far, and he has played in only four of them. We would name our playing XI tomorrow, but dropping Matthews this early in the season is a bit unlikely option,” said a source in the PWI team management.
PWI also have a less welcome battle to tackle, that of facing the Sunrisers’ new ball duo of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma. They struggled against the duo in Hyderabad in the season opener, and would be hoping that this time, the outcome would be different with Finch at the top.