Team Hyderabad finally opened their points tally after a rained-out tie over Team Kolkata at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. Team Pune too enjoyed a first.
Their first major partnership when Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey batted 18.4 overs together for 145 runs. When both teams face off at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium here on Thursday night, they may not be able to take heart from the above positives.
Hyderabad arrived in the city late on Wednesday and won’t have much time adjusting to the heat and humidity. A washout generally has a negative effect on the body and mind.
Pune skipped practice on the eve of the match. Despite losing just two wickets against Delhi on a slowish pitch on Tuesday, their batting wasn’t up to T20 standards.
Inspirational paceman Ashok Dinda, who has missed three games due to a side strain, is still not certain to play against Hyderabad. He is a huge asset to the team because he opens up one more foreigner’s slot in the team by edging out one overseas paceman and gives the team the possibility of bringing in the all-round skills of Marlon Samuels.
If the Gahunje wicket behaves differently, the visitors have Dale Steyn, the most skilful cricketer by miles from either side, to make a mark. Although the Pune fans would want the home team to win, they wouldn’t mind a fast-bowling exhibition from the South African star.
Both captains have a lot of work to do. They are not in a position to sit back and enjoy. Pune’s Sourav Ganguly has to get his four foreigners right.
Luke Wright looked ordinary against Delhi, but the Hyderabad batsmen are ‘capable’ enough to make a hero out of him. Alfonso Thomas is a blow hot, blow cold bowler. He needs runs on the board, batsmen of less pedigree and a little bit of luck to deliver. Steven Smith didn’t get to bat against Delhi. Undoubtedly, the lower middle-order is the ideal spot to bat for him.
Kumar Sangakkara can continue to say in the team meetings that they are just one step away from turnaround. But until they do it, the team morale would remain low.
If Hyderabad take the field low on spirit, Ganguly is more than capable to capitalise on that without scoring much. The batting line-up of Sangakkara, Duminy, Shikhar Dhawan, Cameron White, Daniel Christian and Parthiv Patel can’t match the big names of Delhi. But they have wicket-takers in Steyn and leggie Amit Mishra.