The debut game for the Sunrisers Hyderabad couldn’t have gotten off to a better start when they defended a small total and have thus broken the old home ground jinx in the first game of the new season itself.
A new coach, mentors and support staff plus a new colour uniform seems to have done wonders, for even when they came on to defend their score they came in positively and not with the resigned air seen in earlier editions.
Dale Steyn made the team's intentions of fighting very clear by bowling the first ball at over 141 kph, and at the other end, Ishant Sharma, who had struggled to get past the 135 kph mark in the just concluded Test series also hit the 140 speed regularly.
Yes, the bowlers know that they have to bowl only four overs in the game and that may encourage them to give it everything, but it is not easy to hit your straps from the first ball, but both did so and that’s why the Steyn - Sharma opening burst was so effective.
Their pace and movement seemed to have paralysed the two Pune openers, who just kept hanging their bats out as beggars put their hands out for alms, and it just showed the difference between playing the new ball in domestic cricket and then playing top class international bowlers.
Thisara Perera is a smart buy, for he can belt the ball and can also roll his arm over for a few overs and he benefited from the spell of Steyn and Sharma by picking two wickets and pushing Pune deeper in the mire.
Pune have a surfeit of all-rounders and how they use them will be the key, for there are some dangerous hitters in that squad. These hitters generally prosper while batting first when there is no pressure of the asking rate and are not always successful when they are chasing a target. So while they may have a strike rate of over 120, it is usually while batting first.
The Royal Challengers of Bangalore kept their heads even when Dinesh Karthik's brilliant counter-attack seemed to be swinging the game the Mumbai Indians way. Last year while playing for the Hyderabad franchise, Dan Christian was taken apart by Rohit Sharma and Kohli should have remembered that for Christian almost cost them the game till Vinay Kumar bowled a superb spell to help his team start off with a win.
The Kings XI Punjab begin their campaign against Pune and they have to capitalise on the nervousness that their opponents will feel after their loss in Hyderabad. Pune know they cannot afford to lose their first two games because then it becomes an uphill climb for them, and in the summer heat that is not a prospect to relish.
Professional Management Group