“We need to play fearless cricket now”, Pune Warriors India skipper Sourav Ganguly wrote in his column ahead of their home game against Rajasthan Royals, as their chances of making it to the play-offs were as good as over. Scoring 125 runs after electing to bat first and then letting the opponents reach that target with 3.4 overs and seven wickets to spare would have been, perhaps, the last thing on Ganguly’s mind.
It definitely wasn’t, by any stretch of imagination, fearless cricket by the hosts, but it was, quite often, sprit-less, as Royals overtook PWI’s 125-run total in the 17th over. Once Australian Shane Watson walked in at the fall of Rajasthan Royals’ man-in-form Ajinkya Rahane’s wicket, it seemed a different pitch altogether. Watson smashed six fours and three sixes, more than the entire PWI innings, to reach his half-century in just 27 balls. In all, Watson hammered four sixes and 10 fours in his 90-run unbeaten knock.
The Pune Warriors India innings looked as if they had picked up from exactly where they had left off during their last home game against Mumbai Indians five days back. Most of their batsmen struggled to hit the ball out of the square on a slow pitch, and five of their key batsmen, including Ganguly, Clark, Uthappa, Steve Smith and Angelo Matthews failed to manage a strike-rate of even 100.
Except for Anustup Majumdar, who got his first game of the season ahead of Manish Pandey, all PWI batters struggled to time the ball. Altogether, the hosts’ batsmen managed to hit just five fours and two sixes, so much for the so- called home advantage. The boundary count yesterday was almost half of their unsuccessful 121-run chase against MI last week, when they had struck 12 fours and a six.
The batting Power play produced less than a run-a-ball for PWI. While they struggled their way to 35 for 1 in Power play, PWI managed to score just 39 off the last six overs, despite having six wickets in hand.
Pune Warriors India: Sourav Ganguly c Chavan b Tait 14, Michael Clarke lbw b Binny 16, Robin Uthappa c Yagnik b Tait 13, Anustup Majumdar b Botha 30, Steven Smith not out 18, Angelo Mathews run out (Shah) 11, Mithun Manhas b Tait 11, Wayne Parnell not out 2,
Extras: (LB-7, W-3) 10 Total: (for 6 wickets in 20 overs) 125
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-35, 3-77, 4-83, 5-107, 6-122
Bowling: Chavan 2-0-20-0, Tait 4-0-13-3, Watson 4-0-28-0, Botha 4-0-25-1, Binny 3-0-12-1, Trivedi 3-0-20-0.
Rajasthan Royals (Target 126): Rahul Dravid c Clarke b Parnell 14, Ajinkya Rahane c Smith b Kumar 0, Shane Watson not out 90, Ashok Menaria c Manhas b Clarke 18, Owais Shah not out 4,
Total (for three wickets in 16.2 overs) 126;
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-49, 3-105.
Bowling: Wayne Parnell 2-0-12-1, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-0-17-1, Murali Kartik 3-0-32-0, Ashish Nehra 3-0-33-0, Angelo Mathews 3-0-15-0, Michael Clarke 2-0-12-1, Steven Smith 0.2-0-5-0