PUNE: Rising Pune Supergiants batsman Steve Smith was left to rue his side’s disappointing bowling performance that eventually paved the way for a three-wicket loss to table toppers Gujarat Lions in last night’s Indian Premier League clash.
Pune relied on Smith’s maiden Twenty20 ton (101) and Ajinkya Rahane’s 53 to set a formidable 196-run target for Gujarat after being put in to bat first at Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium.
However, Dwayne Smith (63) and Brendon McCullum (43) once again provided the initial thrust as the duo accumulated 72 runs in the batting powerplay and constructed 93 runs for the opening stand.
A crucial 51-run stand between Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik then helped Gujarat sustain the momentum despite losing both their openers in quick succession.
Although the home team tried to stage a late comeback by dismissing a slew of batsmen, Gujarat had the last laugh with James Faulkner hitting the winning runs in the last ball.
“I thought 195 was a pretty good score. I think first six overs of their batting, they came out there and played their shots and got off to an absolute flier,” said Smith in a post-match press conference. “I thought we were a bit disappointing with the way we bowled. I think we chopped and changed a little bit too much, rather than being nice and patient, bowling good balls and making them go after the good balls.”
“Any time you do that your chances of taking a wicket (increase) and if you take a wicket up top, when you're chasing 195, it makes things very difficult,” the Australian skipper added.
Smith admitted that his side need to shift the momentum immediately, insisting that they have to win a streak of games in order to seal a top-four spot. Pune are precariously positioned sixth in the points table and have lost all their home matches so far.
“Some days you're going to lose games of cricket in IPL, that's part and parcel of it, it's all obviously about winning more to get yourself into that top four and at the moment we're not doing that and we've got a lot of work to do.
“It was obviously a very important one for us to win. We pretty much have to win most of our games from here on in, so hopefully we can turn the momentum around, get a few wins on the board in a streak and hopefully we'll go from there,” he added.