Can Pune build on Chepauk success?
Match factsApril 17, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big PicturePune Warriors against Sunrisers Hyderabad might not be one of the most high-profile matches of the IPL, but both teams have played better than expected already in this competition. While Sunrisers have already recorded wins against Royal Challengers Bangalore (holding their own in a Super Over) and (a much-fancied but underperforming) Delhi Daredevils, Warriors pulled off a huge upset on Monday, beating Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk.
The biggest plus for Warriors is that, ever since they broke their 11-game losing streak with a seven-wicket win against Rajasthan Royals on April 11, their batting has managed to put together moderate totals at least. After being bowled out for 104 and 99, they've scored over 140 in their next three games. There is still a lot of work to do though; against Super Kings, they looked on target for a lot more than the 159 they ended with, but the middle order, bar Steven Smith, could not build on Aaron Finch's blitz at the top. Sunrisers will draw confidence from the fact that one of Warriors' batting flops came against them: when the teams met three days into the tournament, Sunrisers managed to defend 126 at Uppal, with Amit Mishra causing trouble with turn and loop, and Dale Steyn making short work of the lower order.
Both teams have decisions to make about their playing XIs. Warriors' Yuvraj Singh had to sit out of the Super Kings match due to a recurrence of a back problem, and will not be fit in time for Wednesday's match either. Full-time captain Angelo Mathews - who had to sit out in Chennai due to the ban on Sri Lankan players there - should return, but with Finch, Smith and Mitchell Marsh all doing well, it could be at the expense of stand-in leader Ross Taylor. Warriors must be mulling whether they want to disturb their winning combination at all. Sunrisers have the option of playing the West Indies captain, allrounder Darren Sammy, who arrived from the Caribbean a couple of days ago after the birth of his daughter. However, with Kumar Sangakkara and Dale Steyn being sure starters, they would have to pick between Thisara Perera and Cameron White if they want to play him.
Players to watchApart from taking that spectacular boundary catch against Kolkata Knight Riders last season, Steven Smith was one of Warriors' few bright sparks, scoring 362 runs at 40.22 in an otherwise forgetful 2012. After being made to sit out Warriors' first four games this season, he produced what turned out to be the match-winning innings against Super Kings. After Warriors had inexplicably slowed down after Finch's assault, Smith provided the final surge: his unbeaten 39 came off 16, going after Dirk Nannes and Dwayne Bravo. The shot of the game was a reverse-flick for six over third man. If Warriors are to improve on their record this season, Smith will have to play another central role in their campaign.
Compared to some other teams in the tournament, Sunrisers have quite a solid bowling line-up: Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra … The same cannot be said of their batting. There's Kumar Sangakkara and Cameron White, with Parthiv Patel playing the supporting role, but not much else - at least on paper. Hanuma Vihari, Akshath Reddy, Ravi Teja and the other local batsmen, while they have had their moments, are yet to contribute defining innings. At some point, Sunrisers will need them to play a winning hand and it is left to be seen whether they can step up.
Stats and Trivia
- Parthiv Patel needs one more run to get to a 1000 IPL runs. His runs have been spread across stints with Chennai Super Kings, Kochi Tuskers, Deccan Chargers and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
- In Warriors' previous game, against Mumbai Indians, Ashok Dinda went at 15.75 runs an over - that equaled the record for the most expensive spell in IPL cricket, alongside Varun Aaron's in the second qualifier in 2012
Quotes"They can make the last four. They have some big hitters in Uthappa, Finch, Taylor, Smith and Marsh, who can win on their own."
Former Warriors captain Sourav Ganguly backs the team to have their best season yet
"Yuvraj is not going to be playing in the next game but hopefully he is ready for the game after that. Obviously he is a big part of our team and it affects the balance of our team when Yuvi doesn't play."
Ross Taylor offers an update on Yuvraj Singh's fitness
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo