Low-profile Pune seek another scalp
Match factsTuesday, April 17, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big pictureWhen the squads were assessed before the start of the tournament, Pune Warriors were deemed to be one of the underdogs and Royal Challengers Bangalore, one of the favourites. So far, those assessments have proved totally off the mark.
The Royal Challengers' overseas players may be megastars, but the Warriors' foreign recruits are multi-faceted cricketers providing the team plenty of options. Jesse Ryder, Marlon Samuels, Steven Smith and Angelo Mathews can all bat and bowl, and can lift the fielding standards as well. The Indian contingent has also delivered so far. Rahul Sharma is starting to prove that last season was no fluke, Ashok Dinda is beginning to win admirers for his ability to consistently bowl it full and Ashish Nehra has been regularly around 140kph mark.
In contrast, Royal Challengers are having a hard time. The fifth bowler has been a particular concern for them - leaking 71 runs in the defeat to Chennai Super Kings, and 69 in the meltdown against Rajasthan Royals. S Aravind had impressed last season in the IPL, but had a horror outing on Sunday. Royal Challengers had also been hamstrung by a shortage of allrounders in their line-up, limiting their bowling options. That could be changed by getting in either Tillakaratne Dilshan or Andrew McDonald, but at the expense of whom? Daniel Vettori is the captain, Gayle and de Villiers are automatic picks, and Muttiah Muralitharan has looked the best of the side's bowlers so far.
Players to watchWarriors probably signed Marlon Samuels more for his batting skills, but he has consistently proved useful with his flat and fast offspinners. His quicker delivery was clocked at 127kph against Super Kings. However, It will be interesting to see how he bowls as he has been reported for a suspect action.
In the previous match, Royal Challengers had one of their favourite sons, Rahul Dravid, in the opposition. This time, they will be up against another local lad and former Royal Challengers batsman, Robin Uthappa. The $2.1m rated Uthappa has already made a couple of decent contributions with the bat, and he will be looking to score at the Chinnaswamy Stadium to remind his old team what they are missing.
2011 head-to-headThe teams met only once last season, when Royal Challengers' powerful top order, led by Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle, set up a total that proved too much for the faltering Warriors.
Stats and trivia
- Chris Gayle has hit 77 sixes in IPL, only six off the record held by Adam Gilchrist. However, he has played less than half the games Gilchrist has.
- Legspinner Rahul Sharma is second on the list of most economical bowlers in the IPL, only behind R Ashwin.
"Let us not forget that we had not begun too well last season either and yet managed to enter the final."
Royal Challengers' Chris Gayle puts the team's slow start to IPL V in perspective
"I am surprised that he has been warned. Because if you go around the IPL,you will see worse actions."
Sourav Ganguly, the Pune Warriors captain, on Marlon Samuels being pulled up for his bowling action
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.