Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Steven Smith celebrating after taking a Chennai wicket on Monday. (BCCI)
Chennai: Fresh from their morale-boosting win over two-time champions Chennai Super Kings, Pune Warriors India batsman Ross Taylor has advised his team-mates to guard against complacency and be prepared for "tough" challenges ahead.
"It is a long tournament and we don't want to get carried away. We will enjoy the moment and get ready in two days' time in Pune. It is going to be tough," Taylor told reporters.
Standing in for regular skipper Angelo Mathews who is not entitled to play in Chennai due to a ban on Sri Lankan players, Taylor led Pune to a comfortable win over formidable Chennai. "We will enjoy the success of the team today. We know that Chennai are a good side and will come back stronger," he said.
Asked if the performances of other foreign players put pressure on him considering the cap on their participation, he said, "Yes, there is always pressure on you as an overseas player because you know that only four can play. We have got Steven Smith playing his first game, and playing well. Luke Wright and a few others haven't had the opportunity and will be wanting to go out there and play.
"You are always under pressure and pressure is good, I think. It brings out the competitiveness in the team and it can only bode well for the team and team culture. Mitchell Marsh came in at five and Steven Smith batted pretty well at four, so let us wait and see."
Smith shone with a quick-fire innings besides taking three catches and asked why was the Aussie not played before the Chennai game, Taylor said, "I was not part of the selection committee before that but with the absence of Angelo here in Chennai, Steven was an automatic selection. He obviously took his opportunity with both hands. He batted outstandingly well and led the team well on the field with his intensity and catching."
Against Pune, Chennai needed 56 runs in four overs, and even though the hosts had smashed 54 in as many overs in their last win over Royal Challengers Bangalore a few days back, Taylor said CSK's successful chase was not on his mind. "No, not at all. I didn't even think of it. I was working on strategy and trying to restrict to as many dot balls and singles as possible," he responded when reminded about CSK's chase against RCB.
Asked about the move to give Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda longer spells, he said, "That was decided then and there. I think we adapted to what the conditions were like. Sometimes you make plans that don't come off and sometimes they work. Next game, for the captain, it might not work. This game is tough. It might go against you another day."
Pune scored only 28 runs from 11th to 15th over and asked whether it was due to exceptional bowling or poor execution from the batters, Taylor attributed it to a surface that had slowed down. "I think the wicket slowed up a bit when the ball got a bit older and it showed in our innings. That is why I thought I wanted to keep Rahul Sharma back because he would be very difficult to score and it worked out well.
"Both teams, I think, struggled after that. I think you do lose a bit of momentum after you have such a good opening stand. You have to give credit to [Aaron] Finch and Robin [Uthappa] the way they batted. They really set the platform to score what was a very competitive total of 160."
Keeping in mind the format, Taylor said he wants his team-mates to express themselves. "The attitude is more like to go out there and express
yourself ... When you go out there with your natural instincts, more often than not it comes off. You just have to look at Aaron Finch. He went out and hit against [Dirk] Nannes, who has been a strike bowler for them, and bring a little bit of momentum our way."
He said the team was looking ahead to its next match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Pune tomorrow. "With two from five we know we are a better team than that and against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who have lost a couple of games, hopefully we can get a bit of momentum and put some pressure on them."