RCB must beware unpredictable Pune Warriors
Pune Warriors India vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Friday, May 11th 8 pm
Sahara Stadium, Pune
The Royal Challengers Bangalore play the Pune Warriors at their new home ground the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Friday night.
Earlier in the season RCB had beaten the Warriors in a thrilling last ball finish to end a 3 game losing streak, now the Warriors are on a 6 game losing streak and will reportedly not play skipper Sourav Ganguly in their 3 remaining games.
Michael Clarke is most likely to assume leadership of the underperforming team to try and give them a dignified exit from the tournament, helping decide the top 4 while they’re at it.
RCB will be on a high after outclassing the dangerous Mumbai Indians at their home ground. The bowlers did a great job and will try to put the earlier part of the season behind them for good. Zaheer was excellent in his spell which heaped pressure on the Mumbai batsmen but was unfortunate to go wicket-less. He will be eager to capture a few in the city he calls home.
Vinay nearly undid his good work at the beginning by not sticking to the plans at the death and will want to make up for it against the Warriors.
Virat Kohli signaled a return to form with his breezy supporting knock to Gayle at Mumbai, another late but welcome development in the RCB campaign. With Dilshan, Gayle, de Villiers and to an extent Mayank and Virat all firing, RCB may find enough in them to seal a final four slot.
The Pune team has seen many shuffles to accommodate Ganguly but his sitting out doesn’t make them any stronger. Robin Uthappa has made runs but very slowly while no other Indian batsman has impressed. The Indian batting bench strength isn’t too impressive and Ganguly’s replacement could be one of Manish Pandey, Mohnish Mishra or even the legspinner Rahul Sharma whom Gayle hit for 5 consecutive sixes the last time they played. Pandey is likely to get the nod due to his familiarity against mainly Vinay Kumar while Sharma could come in replacing Majumdar.
Jesse Ryder, Angelo Mathews and Steve Smith are likely to be the three overseas players besides Clarke himself. Smith and Ryder have been good and a promotion for the former in the batting order could see him play the knock he’s been threatening to hit all season.
The bowling unit too has been unimpressive, hurt by the injuries to Ashok Dinda and Alfonso Thomas and the ineffectiveness of Ashish Nehra, Murali Kartik and Sharma. Wayne Parnell and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have contributed with crucial strikes but have been inconsistent as well.
Things can easily change though if the batsmen put up runs like they did in their upset against Delhi. They can also make a good effort of defending low totals like they did twice against Mumbai. A win for RCB against Pune simply cannot be taken for granted, they will have to put in as much effort as they did against Mumbai because losses will severely affect their campaign at this stage.
They went to fourth with the win against Mumbai but were pushed back to fifth by Chennai’s win against Rajasthan. They will aim to not just secure the two points but also close the gap in the NRR to consolidate their position as much as they can to make the cut off.