CSK juggernaut bearing down upon Warriors
Match factsApril 30, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Pune Warriors are at the bottom of the points table. Chennai Super Kings are at the top after nine games. Warriors have lost their last four matches, Super Kings have five wins in a row. On current form, this is possibly the biggest mismatch in the IPL. But then, the previous time Super Kings lost in this tournament was when they played Warriors. That upset came at Chepauk, and the game wasn't even close, Warriors winning by 24 runs.
Since then, Super Kings have been unstoppable. They have won even when it seemed like they wouldn't; their strategy of accelerating a chase late has often appeared a folly, only for someone to deliver and take them over the line. At Eden Gardens it was Ravindra Jadeja; against Rajasthan Royals, Dwayne Bravo got a six away with 10 needed off 4; and then there was an MS Dhoni special against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
For Warriors, it has been just the opposite. Time and again they've looked to be in control of the game, only to end up losing. Chasing 120 against Sunrisers, they went from 101 for 4 to 108 all out; they were not able to defend 185 against Kings XI Punjab, and on Sunday they just could not get the big hits away against Daredevils, finishing 15 short in a chase of 165 despite being only four down. They have four points from nine games, and while the permutations are not firmed up as yet, it seems likely that Warriors will have to win all their remaining seven games and hope for other results to go in their favour to progress to the playoffs.
Form guidePune Warriors LLLLW (most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings WWWWW
In the spotlight
For Chennai Super Kings, the fourth overseas player slot has been like a game of musical chairs. Dirk Nannes, Ben Laughlin, Jason Holder and Albie Morkel have all come in, gone out and then, in some cases, come right back in again. It appears Super Kings, in sticking to type, would prefer to play allrounder Ablie but he has been having fitness issues. Which of the overseas quicks will play in Pune? That's anyone's guess. Once Faf du Plessis is fit, provided the team doesn't run into a bad patch of form, they might also be tempted to allow Michael Hussey a bit of a rest and give themselves the extra overseas batting option, should they need it going into the business end of the tournament.
Pune Warriors' death bowling has been the worst among all teams in the tournament. Their economy rate at the death (overs 16 to 20) so far this season is 11.17, almost two runs more expensive than the second team on the list, Kolkata Knight Riders. Death bowling has been something Warriors have been focusing on improving. After the IPL auction in February coach Allan Donald had said they aggressively pursued Australian quick Kane Richardson and paid big bucks for him - he was the third most expensive buy at US$700,000 - specifically because of his "exciting death-bowling skills". Richardson played his first game against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday and, after conceding 17 runs in three overs, produced length balls in the 19th to be dispatched for three sixes. Might have just been the nerves of an IPL debut, but given Warriors position on the points table are they out of time to find a viable solution?
Stats and Trivia
- Robin Uthappa and Aaron Finch have four half-century opening stands in seven innings this season, the most by any pair
- During his innings against Knight Riders, Suresh Raina became only the second player to tally 100 sixes in the IPL, behind Chris Gayle
"The way he has played against different teams has been quite dynamic. I cannot speak more highly of Hussey, on the influence he has and the way he conducts himself. He leads by example, not only the runs he scores but the way he trains and conducts himself."
Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming on Michael Hussey
"Cricket is a funny game, especially T20, where even a single over can change the game. So we've learnt that until it's over, don't raise your hopes."
Pune Warriors seamer Ashok Dinda after his team lost from a comfortable position against Delhi Daredevils
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo