MS Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants began their debut IPL season on a high, overcoming defending champions Mumbai Indians in the opening game of the season. However, their graph fell swiftly from there, and culminated with them being ousted from the final four much before the league games have come to an end. As Pune reflect upon a poor season, we list five reasons why Pune made a failed IPL debut.
Ajinkya, the sole warrior: Ajinkya Rahane has been the only batsman who has displayed some sense of consistency for Pune. In fact, as of now, he is the fourth highest run-scorer in the edition with 461 runs from 13 matches at a strike rate of 126 with six fifties at an average of 126.64 and a best of 74. However, he has lacked the desired support from the rest of the batsmen. The next best for Pune is Steven Smith with 270, but he played his last match for the team quite a while back.
MS Dhoni’s struggles: The Indian skipper has failed to carry forward his Midas touch from the time when he led the now doomed Chennai Super Kings. For the record, Dhoni has 220 runs from 13 games at a strike rate of 123.59, at an average of 31 with a best of 41. He has been nowhere near his fluent best. In fact, his 8 not out from 22 balls against Kolkata on May 14 was symptomatic of his and the team’s woes.
Injury problems: Pune have been extremely unlucky, since they lost a number of big players to injury. The list includes a number of match-winners. Steven Smith’s loss was a massive blow, as he was just beginning to get into his elements, and even came up with a fantastic hundred, albeit in a losing cause. The others on the injured list were equally crucial names – Faf du Plessis, Mitchell Marsh and Kevin Pietersen.
Inconsistent bowling: With the batting struggling, Pune were looking up to their bowlers to deliver. But, apart from a couple of games, they haven’t done too well. Ashok Dinda has been effective when the conditions have been in his favour, but otherwise he hasn’t been able to make an impression. Rajat Bhatia has been economical. However, he is not a match-winner with the ball, and has obvious limitations. Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma have failed to utilise their opportunities.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s struggles: One of the major reasons why Pune have failed to make much of an impact has been because Dhoni’s trump card Ashwin hasn’t delivered as expected. In 13 matches, the off-spinner has picked up a paltry six wickets at a high strike rate of 40, and an unusually high economy rate of 7.12. Ashwin is averaging an unbelievably high 47.50, with a unsatisfactory best of 2 for 30. Clearly, a disappointment.
--By A Cricket Analyst