Whether it was because of Sourav Ganguly’s hair (their apparent lucky charm), the heat or because they were all fighting some personal illness or issue, one thing was certain – the Pune Warriors were focused on anything and everything that wasn’t the match that they were playing against the Delhi Daredevils. There can’t be any other explanation for their completely unfocused, complacent, disinterested and downright flimsy performance. The Daredevils, on the other hand, confronted Pune with a vengeance, with a point to prove, and successfully reclaimed their superiority as they defeated PWI by 8 wickets, with 24 balls remaining.
With Ryder and Ganguly gone before the end of the first 2 overs, all eyes turned to Uthappa and Pandey. Pandey, who hadn’t had any innings for the Warriors to speak of until today, become the only ray of light as he got his act together and whacked the ball past the boundary repeatedly; and although he started slow, his effort was admirable. Uthappa, with his recent quick dismissals, was much more wary. And it may be that very wariness that cost his team the match. It’s a T20 – a fact that Uthappa overlooked, if his feeble shots are anything to go by. The two batsmen who stayed on till the end of the innings might have made the highest partnership in IPL 2012, but they did it at a rate that a tortoise could have beaten. Their score stood at 50/2 at the end of 10 overs and 146/2 at the end of 20 overs – the disparity evidence of the fact that they took too much time to get started. PWI’s bowling was not much better. While Alfonso Thomas and Murali Karthik still managed some economic overs, Nehra single-handedly gave DD enough runs to help seal the Warriors’ fate.
Man of the Match Virender Sehwag got 87 runs off 48 deliveries – not that easy a feat even for a batsman of his caliber when up against the likes of Rahul Sharma, Murali Karthik and Alfonso Thomas. But given PWI’s complacent bowling, the talent of the bowlers was not a relevant factor. DD too lost 2 wickets – Jayawardene and Pieterson – but that didn’t affect their standing in any way. Delhi’s bowling department, spearheaded by Pathan, Negi and Sadeem, controlled the Warriors’ runs. Their disciplined attack even managed to offset the easy runs given away by Morkel and Yadav.
The Daredevils’ fielding played an important role in the Warriors’ inability to score. Their fielding outshone that of PWI as their fielders protected the ball and the boundary with dedicated ferocity. The flaw in their fielding was the fact that they dropped 3 catches that could have been the wickets of Uthappa and Pandey. In retrospect, that might not have been such a bad thing. Pune had other batsmen waiting, batsmen like Steve Smith who could have made a difference, and probably with greater speed. What the Warriors did was not take advantage of a good batting line up. A few needed risks might have given them a better score to defend.
The Daredevils used every advantage they had. They foiled the Warriors’ attempts at boundaries with their impeccable field placement and dedication towards running the ball down, they batted with ease, trusting the next batsman to pick up where they left if a risky shot fell through and they bowled keeping the words ‘economic over’ in front of their eyes. The Warriors gave the match away. Their fielding appeared lackluster, they batted like they had the entire day ahead of them and they bowled like they were defending an impossible target of 300.
In a match on their home ground, surrounded by their fans, where they should have fought tooth and nail to emerge triumphant, the Pune Warriors appeared as though they were playing a warm up match that did not count in any way. Their only achievement was a magic act where they made the crowds disappear before the last ball was bowled.
The Delhi Daredevils drove their point home – they are at the top of the table because they deserve to be there. And they’ve also shown that a loss (like the one they suffered at the hands of Pune in their previous encounter) is only going to make them come back lusting to even the score.