Pune Warriors in need of tonic
Match factsMonday, April 15, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Pune Warriors' campaign is in need of a tonic - they lost three of their first four matches - but they are now in Chennai, which means the tonic is placed on the highest shelf. Chennai Super Kings, the big boys of the IPL, are perhaps the hardest team to beat in their home conditions and they reconfirmed it last night by snaffling a last-ball win against a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The inclusion of Aaron Finch briefly kindled hope as Warriors recorded their first win of the season, against Rajasthan Royals, but a pedestrian outing in Mumbai pulled them back to the familiar zone of mediocrity. Finch was bowled first ball by a Mitchell Johnson bolt and the rest of the batting crumbled without much resistance. Angelo Mathews, the Warriors' new captain, had also appeared listless with his use of bowlers against Mumbai Indians. He removed Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the attack after an impressive first over, allowing Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting to get away, then let Ashok Dinda, who bowled the most expensive spell in the IPL, finish his full quota though there were options still available. The camera often panned to a lost Mathews, and sometimes to Steven Smith, who had been the spark of Warriors' 2012 campaign, in the dugout.
However, Mathews won't be available in Chennai and in his absence, Ross Taylor will lead the side. Yuvraj Singh, is unlikely to take the field*.
On the other hand, Super Kings, after giving Mumbai Indians a scare in the first match, continue to live up to their reputation. They demolished Kings XI Punjab and left Royal Challengers in a confused state. In Chennai, where the crowd gets behind them, there isn't anything they are incapable of doing.
Chennai Super Kings: WWL
Pune Warriors: LWLL
Watch out for
Suresh Raina, the IPL's leading run-scorer, has played two innings and is yet to hit a six. That is at odds with the ease at which he has racked up almost a century of sixes in the tournament, making him the second-most prolific six-hitting machine behind Chris Gayle. Warriors have an attack made up of medium pacers and spinners who bring the ball into the left-hander - an ideal recipe for Raina's favourite hoick over midwicket.
Rahul Sharma, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, will have the task of reining in a big-hitting batting line up if Yuvraj Singh is not available to play. Rahul has managed to keep his economy under six while others have been taken for plenty and he is the leading wicket-taker for the team. Bhuvneshwar has troubled batsmen whenever he has found swing early in the innings and in absence of any real pace in the bowling attack, he will have the responsibility of striking early.
Stats and trivia
- Warriors' head-to-head record against Super Kings reads similar to their current campaign - one win and three losses. They are yet to win in Chennai.
- Since Warriors' inception, Robin Uthappa has been their leading batsman with 751 runs. But in the same period, 16 other batsmen have scored more runs than him.
- Raina has the most number of catches as a fielder - 43, the same as Rohit Sharma
"I do not think there is any reason for us to panic, we have got a very good side with us and we just need to get a few wins under our belt and then take on the momentum from there"
Pune Warriors' allrounder Mitchell Marsh
"I had a cricketing chat with him and he told me that the most important thing while batting is your mental strength and the ability to read the bowler' mind. He said it's all about how you feel on that particular day the moment you put your jersey on."
Suresh Raina reveals the advice he received from Brian Lara recently
*0610 GMT: The article has been updated to reflect the latest team news
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo