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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Cricket

Warriors show fight, Royals feel the Finch
Anand Sachar, Hindustan Times
Pune, April 11, 2013
First Published: 21:11 IST(11/4/2013)
Last Updated: 10:02 IST(12/4/2013)

If there were any doubts Pune Warriors India (PWI) will not abide by their guru's words, the hosts dispelled such notions. The head coach Allan Donald did not mince words on the match eve while demanding intent from his side.

And Angelo Mathews and his boys left no stone unturned in producing a passionate performance against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Thursday night.

Donald had been visibly upset with the sluggish starts the PWI had produced in the first two games which they lost. However, the players responded exactly the way he had demanded, winning by seven wickets.

After successive failures for Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, Michael Clarke's replacement Aaron Finch came in place of Pandey.

Attacking start
The Australian had an immediate impact as he swept league debutant Harmeet Singh and lofted S Sreesanth for a four and six respectively in the first two overs. The aggression rubbed off on Uthappa as he ripped apart Harmeet and Sreesanth in their next two overs. And Pune overhauled the target of 146 set by Rajashan with eight balls to spare.

While a one-handed catch by Rahul Dravid at short-midwicket halted Uthappa's cameo, Finch continued in the same vein.

Soon, the Victorian packed a Kevon Cooper full toss into the deep-square leg region to bring up his half-century. The Big Bash player of the season helped Pune to their first win since April 21, 2012.

The intensity was not just in the batting; PWI's approach to the game itself was in stark contrast to the earlier occasions.

Class shows
Royals skipper Rahul Dravid elected to bat and Pune were pumped up and ready. The first ball of the innings from Bhuvneshwar Kumar was on the money, thudding into Kushal Perera's pads, trapping him lbw.

That is when Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane decided to take charge. They say nothing can replace experience and the classy Dravid added further weight to the saying.

The 40-year-old, who has done it so many times for the country, walked in not just to anchor the innings but propel the team towards a dominant position. When Dravid reached his half-century, a Pune-dominant crowd stood up to salute the effort of one of India's legends.

But Rahul Sharma bowled a tight spell of leg-spin and disrupted the momentum. Yuvraj Singh chipped in with a handy spell of left-arm spin as well. From 81 for two they could only manage 145 for five.


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