Pune aim to trip rising Bangalore
Match factsFriday, May 11, Pune
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PicturePune Warriors have lost six matches in a row - a sequence even worse than bottom-placed Deccan Chargers, who have been clueless against everyone but the Warriors. The losses have meant that Warriors' promising start in the tournament has been squandered. With only three games to go, Warriors can only hope to trip others on their rush to make it to the playoffs and they can start with the fourth-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Royal Challengers earned valuable two points after their bowlers had restricted Mumbai Indians to 141 - the lowest score against them this season - on a responsive pitch and their batsmen strolled to the target. That Virat Kohli scored useful runs must have come as a relief to the team and they would hope that he continues the form. Royal Challengers face Delhi Daredevils, Mumbai Indians and Deccan Chargers after the game against Warriors, and with the race to the finish getting hotter, they wouldn't want to lose points against bottom-placed teams.
After the first four matches, Warriors had shot to the top of the table only to be shaken off the perch by Royal Challengers in a game where Gayle punished Rahul Sharma with five sixes in an over and Ashish Nehra failed to defend 21 runs in the last over. Warriors have the chance to dish out revenge this time but their batting needs to fire. Their last three totals have been 125, 143 and 119 and Sourav Ganguly's tinkering with the batting order hasn't helped him or the team. Ganguly's role in the team has been questioned just as much as a few other captains and his position in the team is, reportedly, in doubt. Now, in their penultimate game in Pune, Warriors would hope to give their fans, who have filled the stadium every time, something to cheer. With nothing to lose, Warriors could win some more fans in Bangladesh if they include Tamim Iqbal.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Pune Warriors: LLLLL
Royal Challengers Bangalore: WWLLW
Players to watchMuttiah Muralitharan is the leading wicket-taker for Royal Challengers with ten although he has just played six games. Muralitharan's double-wicket over derailed a recovering Mumbai Indians batting and inspired a much-improved bowling performance. He would aim to keep the straightjacket on the struggling Warriors' batting.
Michael Clarke has scored 31 runs in his last three innings after scoring 41 on debut. He doesn't have much of a reputation in Twenty20 cricket and with only a few games remaining, he would hope to leave a mark on the tournament.
Stats and trivia
- Steven Smith has taken the most catches - nine - in this IPL.
- Sourav Ganguly has the lowest strike-rate of 107.27 of all batsmen who have scored more than 1000 runs in IPL. This season, his strike-rate is 100.81, which is the lowest among regular batsmen in his team.
- Warriors have played Royal Challengers twice, losing both.
Quotes"It is a good feeling to get it [orange cap]. Do you want it?"
Chris Gayle replying to a reporter during a press conference .
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.