Subrata Roy Sahara stadium, Pune
April 30th, 2013
Sharma No. 4 after Rohit, Karan, Mohit
This will be a replay of the biggest upset of T20 league in this season- where the Pune Warriors (then on a 12 match losing streak) went to Chennai and beat the giants in their own backyward- the stuff of which underdog dreams are made of. It was Chennai’s second loss of tournament this year, and that was more than 2 weeks ago. The SuperKings haven’t lost a game since then, and the Warriors have gone back to their losing ways. Order has been restored, and these two teams face each other in Pune- where CSK start as overwhelming favorites in a matchup between the table-toppers and the basement dwellers.
Pune Warriors India
2013 is their third season, after a disastrous first two seasons- where captains from Yuvraj Singh to Sourav Ganguly have been tried. Two seasons and two bottom – 2 finishes later, many thought that 2013 could be Pune’s season. After all, even Deccan Chargers managed to win a tournament after a disastrous season. Pune were always good on paper, but that never quite translated into results. After setting a record of 12 consecutive losses over two seasons, it looked like they had finally turned things around with a smashing win over in-form Rajasthan Royals in their 3rd game in current season. Another upset win over CSK, and the Warriors were in business.
How the Finch stole Christmas
But if one earned a penny for every game that Pune throws away after being in a winning position, the world would be a richer place. International teams like Pakistan and South Africa, known for choking from seriously good positions, would feel secure if they ever played against Pune in a T20 game. The game against Delhi was a lesson in how not to go about a run chase in T20 cricket. Chris Gayle seems to have destroyed their morale to the point of no return. Winning is a distant memory.
2 wins in 9 games later, the Warriors still do not have a fixed captain, team combination or a finisher. With Angelo Mathews not playing and Yuvraj Singh still struggling to find his timing- the Warriors are in deep trouble, and prime contenders for last slot once again.
Last over specialist
X-factor: For lack of a better option, Aaron Finch. Only because he is in form, and is the only man that can change a game at the top.
5 consecutive wins later, CSK face the team that last defeated them this year. For most years, it seems especially ominous when CSK start slowly- because they’re known to be the strongest finishers in the history of this format of the game. Starting slow only meant one thing- a late charge for a slot in the final 4. Just two top-2 finishes prove that, but in 2013, Dhoni’s men seem to have started in top gear. Both their losses have come at home, but they seem to have adjusted to their own conditions- with Mike Hussey proving why he is the most complete batsman in world cricket. Despite their top bowler Nannes conceding tons of runs against KKR, they still managed to pull it off- with new import Chris Morris bowling a splendid last over.
Bravado in Chennai
7 wins in 9 games, facing a team with 7 losses in 9 games. On paper, that’s a mismatch, but the tournament is never played out on paper.
X-factor: Dwayne Bravo. The mercurial West Indian has been CSK’s most lethal understated weapon since his transfer from Mumbai Indians. He is crucial for the balance of their side, often replacing Albie Morkel- as a madly athletic fielder and an interesting post-wicket dancer.
Prediction: All too easy. CSK look too strong to be upset once again, and could exact revenge for their slipup at home.