Defeat, despair and dada
ESPNcricinfo reviews the performance of Pune Warriors in IPL 2012
Where they finished
Brought up the rear, like previous season, with just four wins from 16 games, and an IPL record of nine consecutive defeats.
Electric in the field and explosive with the bat, Steven Smith played a key role in each of Warriors' four wins. His crisp but calm hitting turned tight chases into manageable ones and boosted average totals to match-winning ones. Acrobatic stops in the deep and spectacular attempts at catches were the norm when the ball sped towards Smith. A decent leg spinner, he bowled just two balls in the tournament, but despite that, created enough impact.
Smith had gone unsold in the 2012 auction (base price $200,000) despite leading Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash League title a week before the auction. He had missed IPL 2011 with an ankle injury after being bought for $200,000 by Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
At $950,000 and $850,000, Angelo Mathews and Ashish Nehra were costly acquisitions in the 2011 auction for Warriors. Mathews has a growing reputation as a finisher for Sri Lanka but he wasn't able to play even one decisive knock down the order for Warriors. He did end up with a much better economy-rate, 7.38, though, than Ashish Nehra's, 8.37. Nehra had a few productive outings but on five occasions, he conceded more than ten runs an over. His meltdown in the final over against AB de Villiers heralded Warriors' downfall after they had begun with three wins in four matches.
The surprise win over table-toppers Delhi Daredevils. Daredevils had started the season with four wins in five games before they ran into Warriors and Ganguly. Jesse Ryder, Ganguly and Smith carried Warriors to 192, their highest total ever. Ganguly then bowled Kevin Pietersen to break Daredevils' momentum in the chase. Warriors did not give it away in the final over either, with Alfonso Thomas conceding five when 26 were needed.
The win over Daredevils was about as good as it got for Warriors. It is difficult to pick one low moment in a season which descended into nine consecutive losses. Conceding a hat-trick to little-known Ajit Chandila, the Rajasthan Royals offspinner, comes to mind, as do the twin losses to fellow strugglers Deccan Chargers.
Sourav Ganguly or Yuvraj Singh, Warriors have only four wins to show for each season. Both campaigns began positively; 2012 slipped deeper than 2011, and never recovered. While Chargers copped the majority of criticism for their poor showing, they at least got into winning positions in several games only to lose, mostly, through elementary lapses in the field. Even when they did not lose heavily, though, Warriors hardly reached dominating positions, and were largely dull and uninspiring. It was a common feature of their performances previous season as well. It is difficult to blame captains in as volatile a format as Twenty20, but sequences of nine and seven straight defeats in 2012 and 2011 are damning. Yuvraj at least made lots of runs, and quickly. An average of 17.86 at a strike-rate of 98.89 with all but three innings at No. 3 or above show that Ganguly the batsman made it even harder for Ganguly the captain.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo
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