It has been a disappointing season for Team Hyderabad thus far. Barring the odd win that they conjured up against Team Pune on Thursday last, Hyderabad have looked totally out of place in the IPL this season. While the other teams are fighting tooth and nail to secure a place in the knock-outs, Hyderabad are generously gifting away points to their rivals.
What can one say about a team which has recorded six losses out of seven finished games? It is not that there is no effort on the part of the players. How can one forget about the lion-hearted bowling of Dale Steyn. The fiery paceman has been at his devastating best in both the games against Mumbai but he finds himself waging a lonely battle. The lack of support from the other end is the main reason the rival teams are escaping away.
Rusty Theron did well in the only game he got to play thus far but the team management is not able to figure out how to fit in both Steyn and Theron without weakening their batting. Leggie Amit Mishra, who was Hyderabad’s highest wicket-taker last season, is a pale shadow of his former self and that has put additional pressure on Steyn.
Hosts Hyderabad have a chance to do so when they take on Pune in their return game here on Tuesday afternoon. Pune, who have had the dubious distinction to be the only team to lose to Hyderabad in the tournament thus far, are the side under pressure as they not only want the two points from the encounter but will also be keen on avenging their loss.
Pune, who are coming off a four-day rest, have the wherewithal to see off Hyderabad’s challenge but skipper Sourav Ganguly would be wary of taking it easy. The former India skipper has all the experience in the world and knows that getting momentum back is very vital for his team’s prospects. With the half-way stage just about crossed, every game gains significance for Pune, who are seventh in the points table.
Ganguly is aware that Pune cannot afford to slip anymore and even a small mishap would have a lasting effect on their chances of finishing among the top four.
Though Jessie Ryder is unavailable for selection, Ganguly is likely to unleash Michael Clarke on Team Hyderabad. All eyes will be on the Australian skipper who is set to make his IPL debut.
With so much at stake, one can expect a cracker of a contest at the Barabati Stadium.