New teams face off on bouncy track
Wednesday, April 13
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene, the captains of the two new IPL franchises, were satisfied with their sides' performances in their opening games; Yuvraj with the demolition of his erstwhile team Kings XI Punjab and Jayawardene with the better-than-expected show against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Yuvraj looked pleased at the helm of an IPL side, something that hasn't happened a lot in the previous three seasons.
Pune's fast bowlers used the bounce and zip in the DY Patil Stadium wicket so effectively against Punjab that their spinners, specialist and part-time, bowled only six overs in all. Alfonso Thomas, Wayne Parnell and Shrikant Wagh were unplayable at times, which will make the Kochi pace attack of RP Singh, Sreesanth and Vinay Kumar potentially tougher to handle.
Till AB de Villiers' assault on Raiphi Gomez in the 18th over, Kochi had a chance against Bangalore, but Jayawardene's decision to hand the ball to Gomez turned the game. Kochi will go in to this game knowing that their batting has at least been tested against a quality Bangalore attack, and come good, while Pune's bowlers did not leave much of a job for their batsmen to do.
Both sides would also have looked at the way Punjab's batsmen perished on the DY Patil wicket, continuing to play forcing strokes from the crease despite the steep bounce.
Given the pace-friendly nature of the track, both sides might want to take a look at the composition of their attacks, having played two specialist spinners in their opening matches. Pune have the option of playing West Indies fast bowler Jerome Taylor but coach Geoff Marsh hinted that they could go in with the same XI that beat Punjab. Kochi might want to push Parthiv Patel up the batting order where he proved to be successful for Chennai Super Kings.
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In the spotlight
The experienced Alfonso Thomas was instrumental in pegging Punjab back upfront with pacy deliveries, taking two of the first three wickets, including that of Adam Gichrist with a bouncer. How will he fare against the strong Kochi top order?
Sreesanth has found support from Jayawardene, who has said that the fast bowler needs to keep up his aggression as it helps him to perform. He was expensive against Bangalore, but will like the help that the DY Patil pitch offers. Will he be able to channel the hostility in to getting wickets?
- Yuvraj Singh is the only bowler to take two hat-tricks in the IPL
- After his unbeaten 158 off 73 deliveries in the first game of the IPL in 2008, Brendon McCullum averages 24 in 22 IPL games at an underwhelming strike-rate of 118.50
"When he wants to bowl a yorker, he can nail that yorker. Similarly, whatever he wants to do he can do. He's got skills with the ball like you talk about Zaheer Khan."
Murali Kartik talks up his Somerset team-mate Alfonso Thomas
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.