Pune Warriors came up with a highly inspired performance, which enabled them to get the better of the much more talented Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk. It is no secret that Pune have serious limitations with both the bat and ball, but on Monday they were highly competitive in both departments, and had enough in their tank to upset MS Dhoni’s much-fancied men. It wasn’t a dominating performance by Pune, but in a game where the stacks were heavily loaded against them, Pune found enough men to do the right job for them at the right time. The result was there for everyone to see.
Like in most games, Chennai had their chances to get on top against Pune as well. But, for a change, they couldn’t get their act right in most departments of the game. First and foremost, they seemed pedestrian with the ball early on, which had a lot to do with the blazing manner in which Pune opener Aaron Finch batted. Finch looked in no trouble at all as he went after the Chennai bowlers. It was Finch’s innings, which was studded with 10 fours and two sixes, that set the tone for Pune right away. It was also crucial in the overall context of the match.
The brilliance of Finch’s knock can easily be ascertained from the fact that his opening partner, the usually aggressive Robin Uthappa was nothing more than a mere spectator as Finch went on the rampage. To his credit, Uthappa did not throw his wicket away, and did well enough to turn over the strike to Finch as many times as possible. In this manner, even though Uthappa scored at a strike rate of well under 100, the overall run-rate of the team remained intact. The highly disappointing aspect of his innings though was that he fell soon after Finch, and without improving his strike rate too much.
Chennai fought back very well with the ball as three quick wickets fell in the form of Ross Taylor, Mitchell Marsh and the struggling Manish Pandey. However, Steven Smith, with some smart hitting, took Pune to a highly competitive total. The fact that Smith batted till the very end aided Pune in recovering swiftly, which was significant in the absence of Pune’s regular skipper Angelo Mathews, who had to sit out of the game due to political reasons. For once, Chennai’s bowlers were highly disappointing.
In spite of the tough target, Chennai would have fancied their chances against a weak Pune bowling line up. However, three quick wickets at the top turned the clash in the visitors’ favour. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a wonderful spell upfront; more importantly he got the scalps of Srikkanth Anirudha and Suresh Raina cheaply. At the other end, Abhishek Nayar brought about the downfall of the in-form Murali Vijay, which put Chennai in serious trouble. They could still have comeback had Dhoni, Jadeja or Dwayne Bravo fired; it wasn’t to be.
Turning point of the game: Chennai losing their top three wickets for 40 runs.
--By A Cricket Analyst