Although there seems to be an uncertainty whether they will still be a part of the IPL come IPL 7, it is worthwhile to analyse the fortunes of Pune Warriors India: a team that has under-performed throughout their existence in the IPL over the last 3 seasons, despite the presence of several quality players in the squad. The Pune Warriors India (PWI) finished 9th, 9th and 8th in IPL 4, IPL 5 and IPL 6 respectively- a record that that does not exactly cover them in glory. Latest report says that BCCI has terminated it’s IPL contract with the team for defaulting on it’s payment.
Angelo Matthews, Exlavya Dwivedi, Udit Birla, Ashok Dinda, Aaron Finch, Raiphi Gomez, Harpreet Singh, Dheeraj Jadhav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Anustup Majumdar, Mithun Manhas, Mitchell Marsh, Ajantha Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Abhishek Nayar, Ishwar Pandey, Manish Pandey, Wayne Parnell, Parvez Rasool, Mahesh Rawat, Kane Richardson, Marlon Samuels, Rahul Sharma, Steven Smith, T. Suman, Tamim Iqpal, Ross Taylor, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Robin Uthappa, Shrikanth Wagh, Luke Wright, Yuvraj Singh, Michael Clarke.
A quick glance through the squad list would give you the impression that the PWI should be a team that should regularly play for a top 4 finish at least rather than being one of the bottom feeders. However, one should also keep in mind that they missed one of their most influential players in Yuvraj Singh during the second season due to his illness and to be honest the southpaw has not yet returned to his full fitness to be the match winner that he used to be. However, the squad does look good on paper and barring a few unnecessary buys most of the players in the squad can contribute on their day.
The captaincy has probably been the worst managed aspect of the PWI and much of the blame should go to the think-tank that ultimately makes these decisions. After Yuvraj Singh was ruled out of IPL 5, Sourav Ganguly led the team with some initial success but after a few games the team lost its way. However, in IPL 6, the choice of captains was even more baffling when Angelo Matthews was chosen as the captain although PWI had bought an excellent batsman and proven captain in Ross Taylor from the Delhi Daredevils. Now, the trouble started when Matthews became a liability as a player and had to be benched. Even then the team management did not opt for Taylor but instead gave the captaincy to Aaron Finch. The funniest part of it all was that Finch remained as the captain even when the original captain Matthews returned to the side. The farce was officially complete.
Although the PWI has successfully turned its strengths into its weaknesses in the past editions of the IPL, there is no denying the fact that a top order of Robin Uthappa, Aaron Finch, Marlon Samuels, Michael Clarke and Yuvraj Singh can cause havoc on the dry Indian pitches. On the other hand, the PWI are also blessed with good all rounders in players like Matthews, Mitchell Marsh and Luke Wright. The certainly do have a line up that can post big totals and it is something that they seem to do pretty frequently.
The ability of PWI to post big scores has not always resulted in victories due to the below par bowling line up which often gets clobbered all over the place. Perhaps with the exception of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, the rest of the bowling resources can at best be called mediocre. Additionally, the lead spinner in the side- Rahul Sharma- seems to have lost his form so to say after the controversial events of last year and perhaps after being smashed for 5 sixes by Chris Gayle in IPL V. If this team has to improve, then they must improve their bowling attack by several notches since Allan Donald is a great bowling coach but certainly not a magician.
By Soham Samaddar
Image Source:Pune Warrior’s@Facebook