Heading into Friday’s Indian Premier League clash against Bangalore, Pune Warriors coach Geoff Marsh has demanded more from his star-studded batting ranks.
Pune’s debut IPL campaign got off to a flier with wins over the Kings XI Punjab and Kochi, but those triumphs have since taken a back seat to four losses on the trot, which leave Marsh’s men languishing at second last in the 10-team standings.
While Jesse Ryder has remained a relatively consistent force at the top of the knock, the regular failures of Graeme Smith, Tim Paine, Mithun Manhas, Mohnish Mishra and Manish Pandey have far too often left Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa to carry the load across the bulk of the innings.
A slew of early wickets, once against Mumbai and twice against Chennai, has left captain and big-hitter Yuvraj shepherding the weaker lower-order batsmen rather than wielding the willow, which has inevitably led to substandard scores from the Warriors.
“Our batting is letting us down. We have stopped getting away to starts. We have lost four wickets inside the first six overs and we have been making the same mistakes over and over again. We will have a meeting about that but we have to be competitive,” said Marsh.
“Because we have lost four wickets early we are not going into the last eight overs with wickets in hand. We have Yuvraj or Robin batting out there, with five or six wickets down. You then can’t afford to lose any more wickets. What it boils down to is, again, getting off to a good start.”
Frontrunners through the opening throes of the tournament but now veritable bottomfeeders across a very competitive log, Pune remain in contention for a semi-final berth regardless due to the lengthy nature of the IPL.
With eight games remaining for Yuvraj and company, starting with Friday’s encounter against the Royal Challengers, Marsh is confident his troops have enough fight in them to eventually secure a place alongside table-toppers Mumbai and Chennai.
“The whole competition is pretty wide open at the moment. But we need to focus on winning the next game and playing better at the top. If we start winning, we have got eight games to go, so we have every chance to get among the top four teams,” concluded the Australian.
Skipper Singh, meanwhile, has echoed Marsh’s sentiments and insisted on better from his charges in Bangalore.
“We have not applied ourselves with the bat. We keep making the same mistakes again and again. We have lost too many wickets at the start. We need to bounce back, we need to think about it and not make the same mistakes again and again,” concluded Singh.
Whereas Pune are in the middle of a slump, the third-placed Royal Challengers are on the up after resigning three consecutive defeats to the past with back-to-back victories over Kolkata and Delhi.
Virat Kohli, who racked up match-winning knocks of 30 not out and 56 against the Knight Riders and Daredevils respectively, is hopeful his side’s upward curve will continue as they return to their home ground – the M Chinnaswamy Stadium – to face the Warriors.
“We were always going to bounce back at some time or another. We have a really good team filled with really talented players. We’ve won two games in a row now and that’s a big positive, a big plus for us going forward,” he added.
“We get to play at home now, so we hope to win with that home advantage and stay toward the top of the table.” Cricket365