Pune's time to take forward steps
Match factsThursday, May 3, Pune
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PicturePune Warriors started their campaign in IPL 2012 with an uplifting win against pre-tournament favourites, Mumbai Indians and followed it up with an easy win over Kings XI Punjab. But since then, they have played seven games and won only two, with a hat-trick of losses. Second from the bottom, Warriors still have a chance of qualifying for the play-off stage, but with just six games to go they will need to stay focussed.
Mumbai Indians have had five wins from nine games even though they haven't performed to their potential. Of all their big names, only Lasith Malinga has been consistent while Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh haven't fired. Rohit Sharma is the top-scorer in the line-up but his tournament tally is half that of Ajinkya Rahane's and he has given his wicket away easily in crunch situations. Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, though, have shown signs of form after an indifferent start to the season. Mumbai Indians have often reiterated the importance of having Tendulkar at the top to provide stability. However, he has scored 94 runs in five games and Sourav Ganguly would hope to keep the pressure on him.
Michael Clarke made an impressive IPL debut in the last game and scored his runs at a good clip with proper cricketing shots, much like Rahane. Clarke's ability should relieve Robin Uthappa of the stabilising role, allowing him to take a more aggressive stance. In their bowling department, Warriors have missed Ashok Dinda as Ashish Nehra has been expensive as a death bowler.
Form guide(most recent first)
Pune Warriors: LLLWL
Mumbai Indians: WLWLL
Players to watchSteven Smith is the second highest run-getter for Warriors this season with 267 runs at a strike rate of 159.88. While several other top run-scorers have faced more than 200 balls, Smith has only faced 167, highlighting that he could have a greater impact if he is given more time in the middle.
Ambati Rayudu has looked in good form in recent games. While his cameo in Mohali won the game for Mumbai Indians from a difficult position, his counter-attacking 62 in Delhi kept the team in hunt after the loss of early wickets. With an inconsistent top order, the responsibility will be again on him.
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai Indians' average of 21.58 runs per wicket is the lowest in this IPL. Warriors are third from the top with an average of 27.05.
- Mumbai Indians scored 101 against Warriors in their last match, the second-lowest score this season after their 92 all out against Delhi Daredevils.
Quotes"One always plans to succeed but the success rate may not always be nine on 10. IPL comes with certain pressure, but we've played well overall and haven't been dominated by any team."
Robin Uthappa on Warriors' recent losses
"I am very thankful to MI, especially Robin Singh (MI coach) and Sachin sir, for giving me this opportunity. MI gave me a chance when I needed one."
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.