Who will captain Pune Warriors?
Match factsTuesday, April 23, 2013
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big PictureFive of the nine franchises are captained by foreign players, leading to the debate about whether foreign captains are a liability when they don't perform well. Seven games into this tournament, Pune Warriors have already had three captains - Angelo Mathews, Ross Taylor and Aaron Finch (all foreigners). One was an enforced change, with Mathews forced to sit out a game in Chennai, leaving Taylor to lead. However, Mathews' poor form (5 matches, 52 runs, 1 wicket) has upset the team's plans and hence he was left out of Warriors' last game against Kings XI Punjab, handing the captaincy to the inexperienced Aaron Finch.
The leadership crisis hasn't helped Warriors as they stay at No.8 in the points table, above Delhi Daredevils. If Warriors decide to go with an Indian captain, the only logical option is Yuvraj Singh, who returned after missing two games to injury. Ross Taylor didn't feature against Kings XI, in order to accommodate Luke Wright. The questions remain - if not Mathews, who will walk out for the toss in Bangalore? Will they settle on an Indian captain once and for all?
They've been dogged by inconsistency all season. In Mohali, they had the upper hand at the start of the final over with 15 to defend, but Wright's horrid over handed the game to Kings XI. Warriors had positives to draw from the defeat, but against Royal Challengers Bangalore, their bowlers will have to step up.
Royal Challengers are the team with the best home record this season, having not conceded a single game at Chinnaswamy. Their match against Warriors will be their last at home before they embark on a six-matches tour. Their next home fixture is on May 14. Against Rajasthan Royals, their seamers did well to keep the total to an underwhelming 117. The chase was measured, with Chris Gayle scoring a patient 49. It may not have been the most entertaining chase, but Royal Challengers were determined to keep wickets in hand and not choke.
Form guide(most recent first)
Pune Warriors LLWLW
Royal Challengers Bangalore WWLWW
Players to watch
Saurabh Tiwary was a regular in the Royal Challengers' line-up in 2012 but was missing at the start of this season due to injury. In his first game, against Royals, he scored an unbeaten 25 to steer the side home with Gayle. Gayle was unusually cautious towards the end, but Tiwary's flurry of boundaries hastened Royal Challengers' march. Tiwary could command a regular place going forward. When these teams met at Chinnaswamy last year, Warriors needed to defend 21 off the last over and yet managed to botch it, with Tiwary hitting the final ball for six with three needed.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is Warriors' leading wicket-taker with eight wickets at an economy rate of 6.29, only behind Rahul Sharma (6.03). Against Kings XI, he was the best of the lot, with figures of 4-0-31-1. With Ashok Dinda proving expensive, the burden on Bhuvneshwar to contain the opposition batsmen has only increased. His inswing to the right-handers has been a revelation.
Stats and trivia
- Aaron Finch has three fifties so far which, along with Michael Hussey, is the most by any foreigner.
- Virat Kohli needs 39 more for 2000 IPL runs.
"All the four fast bowlers are doing well and Zaheer Khan is still not playing. When he comes back, it will be a plus."
Royal Challengers fast bowler and Purple Cap holder Vinay Kumar
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo