After three successive games on the road, Team Pune have finally returned home to take on Delhi. Sourav Ganguly’s boys take on Virender Sehwag’s outfit at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium on Tuesday after having recovered from two successive away defeats to Bangalore and Chennai.
The turnaround came last Saturday, when they beat fancied Delhi at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Delhi, in fact, had their noses in front, with skipper Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen going strong. But KP shot himself in the foot when he swung hard at a Sourav Ganguly delivery that kept low, only to get bowled.
The Delhi batsmen, with the exception of Sehwag and Ross Taylor, looked in a hurry on Saturday. If only they had toned down their aggression, they could have made a better match of it. However, Sehwag will be concerned about their bowling too before the teams face off again on Tuesday.
This will be the first 4 pm game at the new stadium. It will be interesting to see how the sun-baked pitch behaves in the first session and what kind of effect the evening breeze has.
Delhi’s pace troika led by purple cap holder Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan were milked for runs on the flat Kotla track. While the seamers struggled with their lengths, the otherwise miserly left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem too came in for some punishment at the hands of Jesse Ryder and Ganguly. A few debatable bowling changes by the Delhi skipper also added insult to injury and helped the Pune batsmen post a competitive total.
Sehwag will want his bowlers to get their act together against the calculated and clinical Pune outfit. Under Ganguly, who has been a resourceful and inspirational leader, Pune have looked a more responsive and lively unit. His decision to come on to bowl against the KP-Sehwag combo on Saturday was a practical one, somewhat prompted by a lack of options.
Instead of passing the responsibility to someone else, Ganguly did the job himself. It is under his leadership that Jesse Ryder has exorcised his demons and rediscovered his mojo. Pacer Ashok Dinda continues to flourished under his guidance and left-armer Ashish Nehra has finally found his way out of the woods.
At 39, Ganguly, who broke into wild celebrations on Saturday night after picking up Pietersen’s wicket, hasn’t lost his ambition or passion for the game. On Tuesday, Pune’s Dada will be itching to flaunt his celebratory skills again.