Pune Warriors make home debut
Match factsSunday, April 8, Pune
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureAfter spending a season playing at their surrogate home ground in Navi Mumbai, Pune Warriors are back where they ought to be - in Pune. Here, they will take on Kings XI Punjab at the new Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium. The ground is 28 kms away from the city centre, but optimists among the fans would say that's 100 kms closer than the DY Patil Stadium. Fresh from their 28-run heist against their more fancied neighbours, Mumbai Indians, Warriors will look to build some momentum against a Kings XI side that was razed by Ajinkya Rahane and Kevin Cooper in Jaipur on Friday.
In that game, Adam Gilchrist's side lacked bite in their bowling. With his reduced pace, Praveen Kumar has been easier to score off all season, and on the flatter pitches of the IPL his form is particularly worrisome. Kings XI's follow-up bowlers lacked control and variety, and that makes a case for the inclusion of an experienced Twenty20 player like Azhar Mahmood.
Warriors will be still be wary though, after their batting appeared light in their last match. In-form Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal could make his IPL debut. Their bowling attack, with its variety, wouldn't solicit a change.
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Players to watchRobin Uthappa scored an uncharacteristically sedate 36 in Mumbai but, more importantly, controlled the slide with a crucial partnership in the middle overs. A strong hitter, Uthappa would fancy his chances against a less than commanding Kings XI bowling attack.
Twenty-year-old Mandeep Singh was the top-scorer for Kings XI in their last outing. In a batting order dominated by the likes of Gilchrist, Shaun Marsh and David Hussey, Mandeep has the talent to become the local mainstay.
2011 head-to-headWarriors overwhelmed Kings XI twice in an otherwise sorry campaign last year. The bowlers led them to a seven-wicket win in Navi Mumbai and repeated the performance in Mohali, ensuring a five-wicket victory.
Stats and trivia
- Shaun Marsh averages 50.96 for Kings XI, the highest in IPL history.
- Rahul Sharma leads Warriors bowling charts with 17 wickets at an average of 17. Neat.
Quotes"There is a problem with the white ball on the flat subcontinent wickets. [For the] first few overs it's manageable, but then both the new balls are an advantage to the batsmen."
"We have been strictly instructed by Preity [Zinta, Kings XI's owner] to go slow on serving the players any oily food, even if the cravings are intense."
A Kings XI's chef reveals the strategy to avoiding butter-fingered players
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo