After getting battered and bruised on the road, Team Hyderabad have finally reached the shores of their first ‘home’ to make a last-ditch effort to salvage their lost pride.
It has been a horrendous campaign for the hosts so far, with just two wins to showcase from 11 matches. Right from the very first day of their campaign, virtually nothing has gone right for Hyderabad. What has been more unnerving for the fans is that they have lost at least half of those games from winning positions. The inability to defend big targets has not gone down well with their support base.
The bowling has not been able to stand up to the demands of T20 cricket, as was evident on Sunday night against Team Bangalore. After getting a competitive 181, Hyderabad were right on top when they had the hosts on the ropes. But a blitzkrieg by South African AB de Villiers saw them romp home by five wickets, with seven balls to spare.
The worst part is Hyderabad have not been able to hold their nerves in tight situations – except for the games against Pune – and the bowling, barring Steyn, has looked pedestrian. Amit Mishra has looked a pale shadow of his former self and the youngsters, sadly, have a long way to go before coming up with match-winning performances. The good work by the batsmen has gone down the drain time and again. Fielding, too, has been a cause of worry.
“This is a major area of concern for us but the boys are working hard on it. Most of them are young players and performing before such huge crowds is always an unnerving thing,” coach Darren Lehmann had said after the game against Pune, in Cuttack last Tuesday. Things don’t seem to have improved much on the field since then.
Despite the gloom in the camp, life has to go on and on Tuesday, Hyderabad take on Team Punjab in the first of their four home games at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium. Barring pride, the hosts don’t have much at stake in the tournament anymore. It’s a different story for Punjab though. The visitors have had a mixed tournament in what has been a start-stop campaign, but a couple of good wins and they still could be in contention for a spot in the knockouts.
With 10 points from 11 games, Punjab could very well fancy a shot at the top four spot. But first, they need to get the maximum from the lowly Hyderabad side.