After their defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday, Rising Pune Supergiants skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had suggested in a television interview that the calf injury to prolific batsman Kevin Pietersen could be a blessing in disguise for his team.
His contention was that with Pietersen out, an all-rounder like Albie Morkel or Mitchell Marsh could make it to the team and help the floundering bowling attack.
Looking at his side’s batting performance against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday, Dhoni would have wondered what could have been had Pietersen been fit enough to play after Pune lost by two wickets, their fourth defeat in five matches.
Without Pietersen in their ranks, Dhoni picked South African Morkel, who was an integral part of Dhoni’s core group of players at the Chennai Super Kings.
Pune’s innings was one that could have done with a Pietersen-esque blitzkrieg. Faf du Plessis, one of Pune’s most consistent batsmen this season, departed early.
The other consistent performer, Ajinkya Rahane took up the challenge, patiently going about his business, scoring 67 off 52 balls. The Mumbai batsman did what he does best --- laid a solid platform for the middle order to exploit.
However, the thrust only came in the last over of the innings, which yielded 17 runs. Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera, who lit up the MCA Stadium on Friday with a 13-ball 34 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, could only score 12 runs.
Saurabh Tiwary’s inclusion in the Pune team remained a mystery. The Jharkhand player did not get to bat with even Rajat Bhatia being preferred over him.
Dhoni’s men eventually set a target of 161, which given KKR’s batting this season and Pune’s bowling form, would have been an easy task.
However, Kolkata’s in-form opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa had a rare stutter at the top of the innings.
But it did not matter as Mumbai lad Suryakumar Yadav scored a measured 60 runs. With handy cameos from Yusuf Pathan (36) and Andre Russell (17), Kolkata eventually stumbled past the finish line.