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Chinks in the armour

india Updated: May 09, 2012 23:47 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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When Pune Warriors returned to the hotel that's been their home for nearly two months for a five-night stay last time around - on April 22 after surprising Delhi Daredevils in Delhi the previous night - they were greeted in the lobby like victorious warriors returning home, with the hotel staff and the fans treating them like heroes.

Mood change
Cut to Sunday, the day after the Warriors returned after losing the high-profile clash in Kolkata - their fifth successive loss - and the mood in the hotel had changed, with the staff doing their work and the fans disappearing from the lobby.

If the loss against KKR - it virtually ruled them out of the race for the playoffs - turned the mood sombre, the defeat against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday left the Warriors looking to salvage a win or two from the last three matches to avoid finishing last on the points tally. It also left the team zone resembling a graveyard.

Deserted lobby
The morning after the match, the lobby had no autograph-seekers. Neither were there murmurs among other guests about the cricketing stars they met over breakfast. In fact, despite it being an off day, hardly any Warriors player came out of his rooms.

And within the confines of their rooms, though some preferred to keep mum or engage themselves with their Playstations, others were busy back-biting their teammates. The sense that one got was that the six successive defeats had started taking a toll beyond the boundary.

With each of the six successive losses, team unity seems to have become more and more irrelevant.

Such was the division in the unit that some of the overseas cricketers had no hesitation criticising their skipper-mentor Sourav Ganguly.

Cracks visible
"I was told by a senior not to join the team that was controlled by this man. I don't know why I didn't listen to him. There is no way I am going to join this team again," a seasoned overseas player told his friend.

While the foreign players had no hesitation going after their skipper, mainly for being "inconsistent with team selection", domestic cricketers, just like most of the fans, were wondering whether the team had any local connect.

"It's not KKR, but this is the real team from Bengal," a member of the squad, requesting anonymity, said sarcastically. "We haven't given an opportunity to any of the Pune players. But when it comes to blooding youngsters from Bengal, even the performers have to face the axe. And then there are some who are backed to the hilt, irrespective of how they have fared."

At whose expense?
The domestic player was obviously hinting at the inclusion of Anustup Mujumdar in place of Manish Pandey. If at all a youngster deserved to make his debut, it should have been at the expense of Mithun Manhas and not Pandey.

But more than one selection, virtually every member of the team seems to be fuming over something or the other. Will they be able to put up a united front in the remaining three games?