Match#10: Pune Warriors v/s Kochi Tuskers Kerela
Form Guide: Pune Warriors: Win, Kochi Tuskers: Loss,
If someone were to tell us two years ago that this would be a match made in heaven, a match that would bring traffic to a standstill and make the nation hold its breath, the usual reaction would be a dismissive scoff.
In fact, that reaction would still hold true. In this debut tussle between the much-hyped debutant teams of this edition, the onus will be squarely on the Tuskers- simply because they need to prove that their best player is not, in fact, Sreesanth. Apart from the colossal embarrassment and sheer pleasure (for opposition fans) that accompanied their initial decision to be called ‘The Indie Commandos’ (brainwave), Kochi have had an exciting pre-season in contrast to the quiet confidence that the Warriors have exuded as soon as they realized that the ‘Man of the World Cup’ is their captain.
The match, to be held at Pune’s home ground DY PATIL stadium in Navi Mumbai (Wait…) will be an eagerly anticipated clash- atleast among the local cops and fisherman folks from their respective towns.
When Yuvraj Singh was picked as their captain days before the World Cup had begun, nobody except Yuvraj’s close family could contain their amazement at such a bold decision. And when Murali Kartik was picked, nobody except Yuvraj himself could contain their amazement.
In hindsight, it seems fair to say that all is well with the balance of the new side. The big blow to this squad, though, came during the World cup- when the supremely talented Angelo Mathews had to pull out due to injury and expressed his deep disappointment at not being able to play for Pune (his national team Sri Lanka being in the final did not bother him much. ‘Next time’ he said).
If you go solely by strength on paper, this squad seems to be a decent one- but only time will tell. We had all said that about Kolkata Knight Riders in the first edition too…
Player to watch out for: Robin Uthappa. Apart from being roped as a batsman-wicketkeeper (the term still confounds Ian Healy), Robin has proved time and again that he is one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball. Hence, his continued exclusion from the National team has surprised nobody but him.
The young gun Manish Pandey, after a messy pre-season dispute, is yet to get a game. He will be looking to drive home his credentials as the first Indian IPL centurion and out to prove that it was, in no way, a fluke. (2 seasons have passed- just saying)
Wayne Parnell, the underrated South African left arm seamer is lethal with the new ball, and with the young Mitchell Marsh stepping in to be his partner- this attack could go places (apart from the DY PATIL stadium)
Kochi Tuskers Kerela:
Jayawardena, the Kochi captain, seems to be a bit low on confidence and firepower after what transpired on April 2nd (which was in no way his fault)
This lack of belief was mirrored in his decision during the first game against Bangalore, when he generously handed young Raiphi Gomez the opportunity to end his own career by bowling a crucial over that would probably dictate the rest of their bowling campaign. That AB De Villiers and Saurabh Tiwari (both stars in their own right) were at the crease was only a minor hiccup.
Their batting line-up headed by the dangerous (and equally unpredictable) Brendon McCullum seems to be heavy on artillery. But their bowling line-up headed by Sreesanth cancels everything out.
Mahela Jayawardena himself looks to be in classy form (but equally scratchy form as a captain), and opposition teams should beware- simply because they cannot afford to face another vengeful Sri Lankan.
Graeme Smith should consider temporary retirement unless he convinces his teammates that his stance is the only thing ‘tail-ender’ about him.
Player to watch out for: Vinay Kumar. After a lethal new-ball spell against the Challengers (which was duly nullified by the rest of his teammates), Vinay Kumar will be looking for more than just pace and zip. All he needs is some turn and bounce, and he will be truly unplayable.
And once the Carbbon-Kamaal and DLF-sixer commentators stop calling Muralitharan ‘the 800 man’, things will automatically look up for the wide-eyed legend.
You still can’t put it past Shastri to call him ‘the 1000 minus 200’ man, though.
Prediction: Upset. Kochi win. Pune had it a bit too easy in their first game. Can’t put it past Kochi if their batting clicks again- simply because they possess a higher number of match winners. All they need is for Sreeesanth to concede less than 8 an over. Sounds like a tall task- but the purist Mahela is smarting.