Desperate Pune seek revival
Sunday, May 1, Jaipur
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
One of the enduring images of the first week of the IPL was Pune Warriors' owner Subroto Roy, flanked by beauty queens in the VIP stands, smiling away gleefully at his franchise's early successes on the field. Five straight defeats later, with his team's campaign in need of a dramatic turnaround, the smile, presumably, would have been clouded by anxiety.
A misfiring batting line-up had been their primary concern but the hammering meted out to Jerome Taylor and Kamran Khan by Royal Challengers Bangalore was another setback. They tweaked their batting order, but failed to push on in a big chase and when Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa, their bumper buys, did step up, it was too late. With the tournament already at its halfway stage, and Pune sitting at the bottom of the points table, they would be hoping to keep themselves alive with a win in Jaipur.
Rajasthan, in contrast, are on a high after two comprehensive wins that centered around dominating performances with the ball. This included a humbling of early favourites Mumbai Indians, and they'd want to win at least four of their next six games to be certain of progress.
Form guide (most recent first)
Pune: LLLLL (tenth in the points table)
Rajasthan: WWLLL (fourth in the points table)
Tim Paine struggled to get going for Pune against Bangalore, and Manish Pandey has had three straight failures. A cursory glance at the averages of Pune's batsmen will reveal a lack of form, but Pune should consider giving Callum Ferguson a chance. Ashish Nehra hasn't had a game due to his finger injury, but in his absence Pune could bring back Shrikant Wagh for Kamran Khan.
Rajasthan stuck to the same XIs in their previous two games, and are likely to do so for this one as well unless Shane Warne's swollen knee, an injury he sustained in Rajasthan's previous game, keeps him out. In that case, Raul Dravid or Ross Taylor may have to take over.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Robin Uthappa batted at No. 5 in Pune's failed chase in their previous game. He could do with a promotion in the order, as his team, at this stage, is more in need of a surge at the top of the order than an explosive finish.
Ross Taylor, known for those explosive finishes, hasn't been at his best this IPL, with a highest of 35 in seven games. He didn't get to do much in Rajasthan's previous two games, with opponents folding for low scores after batting first, and awaits his turn.
- Yuvraj Singh has struck 13 sixes so far this IPL, the highest by a batsman this season.
- Siddharth Trivedi, despite improved performances in the last two games, still has the dubious distinction of conceding the most runs in an innings this IPL - 59 in four overs against Kings XI Punjab.
"We have been lucky here. We know a few things about this ground like the angles to be blocked off and that gives us the extra confidence."
Shane Warne on playing at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo