Warriors battling fear beneath the surface

They say it is lonely at the top. But that is better than being psychologically battered at the bottom, something the Pune Warriors India will vouch for.

As the Warriors prepare to face the Rajasthan Royals on Thursday, they are striving to taste that victory that has been eluding them so far the campaign.

In the team's inaugural edition in 2011, they were woeful and finished second last. In their second season, last year, Pune went from bad to worse - finishing with the wooden spoon.

In a bid to revive their fortunes, the Pune camp chopped and changed. They refused to continue with Sourav Ganguly's leadership, asking Angelo Mathews to step in after Michael Clarke was ruled out due to injury. They even strengthened their batting by adding Ross Taylor while Ajantha Mendis came in to boost to the bowling department.

No avail
But all those attempts have fallen flat so far, Pune going down to Sunrisers Hyderabad before being humiliated by Kings XI Punjab. Though it is early in the tournament, losing seems to have become a habit. Or maybe, victory fails to seduce them anymore. After all, they are coming off nine straight losses from 2012 and two defeats from this edition.

While skipping practicing on Saturday due to travel after the Hyderabad game was understandable, the aversion to have a net session before the game against Punjab on Sunday defied logic.

To make matters worse, the embarrassing loss handed out by Punjab was not enough to bring the PWI team onto the field on the following day either. It was only on Tuesday evening that the team returned to the ground for a practice session.

The scenario that the team finds itself in leaves even the head coach Allan Donald confounded. "There could be a subconscious fear within the players. Look at the way Manish Pandey and Robin Uthap-pa, free flowing players, are playing. I have never seen them go into their shell in this manner."

However, the former South African pace spearhead refuses to make excuses. "We have not shown intent. We have had a torrid time over two years. But we have brought in people who are helping the team stay calm," Don-ald said. "But we'll bounce back, with all the talented guys we have."


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