After the Pune Warriors registered a hat-trick of losses in Cuttack on Tuesday night, captain-mentor Sourav Ganguly stressed on the need for the players to “get away from the game” and “come back fresh” to the ground on Thursday against the Mumbai Indians.
However, after succumbing to a series of losses, as the Warriors undertook a long journey from Cuttack to Pune on Wednesday, the players were finding it difficult to follow their captain's brief. Though not many admitted it, but most players had started thinking about their disastrous debut series in the IPL.
During the IPL's fourth edition, the Warriors, led by World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh, started their campaign with successive victories. However, that was followed by seven straight losses, which resulted in the ouster of coach Geoff Marsh and a plethora of changes in the team setup ahead of the fifth edition.
However, the core group of domestic cricketers has, more or less, remained intact during this edition.
And, howsoever hard they might try to not let the thoughts about IPL-4 cloud their minds, the players still fear that the recent string of losses would lead to what had happened last year.
"It's natural for those thoughts to occupy the mind, especially when you have such a long travel day," a domestic Warriors player said, requesting anonymity. "All we are hoping is for the tide to turn against the Mumbai Indians tomorrow."
The big blow
What’s affected the morale of the Warriors is their two losses against the Deccan Chargers — the most lacklustre team in the tournament so far.
No wonder then that the team management is desperately looking forward to their overseas recruits such as Michael Clarke, who joined the squad in Cuttack, and Steve Smith, the pick of their batsmen so far, to reverse the trend with a match-winning knock.
Will it happen against one of the most formidable teams in the IPL family on Thursday?