Pune Warriors skipper Sourav Ganguly said on the eve of the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday that he would continue to lead the second-last placed side for the rest of the season. But then,his position has been undermined following the teams poor show,it is reliably learnt.
Picking up just eight points from 13 games isnt a scenario Ganguly envisaged at the start of the fifth season. The teams current predicament,the result of six consecutive losses,has irked the franchise owners who went to the extent of questioning Gangulys contribution after the humiliation suffered at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium when Rajasthan Royals beat them by seven wickets on Tuesday.
The impatience of the team owners has been growing for a while. In the big clash between Kolkata Knight Riders and Pune at the Eden Gardens,Ganguly came into bat at No.7. The decision which was taken by the team management following instructions from one of the top officials of the Sahara Group did not go down very well with Ganguly,a team source said.
It was a decision taken by the team management before the match, team director Deep Dasgupta had said when asked why Ganguly had come in so low down the order. In the next game against Royals,Ganguly opened the innings but fell cheaply to a short ball from Shaun Tait. The incident against KKR was not apparently a one-off.
Ahead of the game against Mumbai Indians on May 4,left-arm medium pacer Ashish Nehra was initially omitted from from the playing XI,a move that Ganguly opposed. Ganguly managed to convince the team management and the owners to include Nehra in the playing XI. Gangulys support of Nehra was vindicated when the medium-pacer finished with figures of 4-0-19-2 but the captain himself came under flak after he made 16 off 24 balls and got out at an inopportune time,while chasing a modest target of 121. Pune lost the match by one run.
According to a team source,Ganguly had contemplated quitting captaincy ahead of Fridays game against RCB. However,when contacted,Ganguly said that there was no uncertainty over who would lead the Pune team for the rest of the season. No truth at all, Ganguly told The Indian Express.
One of the team directors,Abhijit Sarkar,said that as on date there wasnt a loss of faith in Gangulys abilities. He (Ganguly) is the boss and has the last word about cricketing matters, Sarkar said.
It is also learnt that the team management understands that the lack of a match-winner in the team,in the absence of Yuvraj Singh,recuperating after cancer treatment,has hampered Ganguly. As the India captain,Ganguly could bank on match winners such as Rahul Dravid,Sachin Tendulkar,VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble.
At Pune,only Australian all-rounder Steve Smith has been a stand-out performer. However,his own form with the bat has been scratchy. Ganguly has scored 261 runs in 13 matches but its his strike rate,just over 100,which is under the scanner. Apart from a match-winning performance against Delhi Daredevils he hasnt contributed with the ball as well.
PWI vs RCB: Live on Max at 4pm