Do or die for Pune
Their campaign in doldrums at the half-way stage, Pune Warriors would be desperate to change the scenario but they face a gigantic challenge when they...
Their campaign in doldrums at the half-way stage, Pune Warriors would be desperate to change the scenario but they face a gigantic challenge when they take on table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in a Pepsi IPL match here on Tuesday. Languishing at the bottom of the table, Pune Warriors would be keen to repeat the performance they gave a fortnight ago against the same opposition, when they defeated them by 24 runs -- that too in an away match. But in the days after that, the Allan Donald-coached side has lost four matches on the trot, including last night's game against an equally out of sorts Delhi Daredevils by 15 runs, and the odds are heavily stacked against them. Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, have been in destructive form, most recently defeating defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders by 14 runs last night. The Warriors have been inconsistent in all departments, with the batsmen failing to contribute in the initial matches and bowlers being sent on a leather hunt in the later games. Jamaican Chris Gayle had clobbered the Pune bowlers for a record 66-ball 175 at Bangalore, and they conceded 63 runs off their last five overs against a struggling Delhi Daredevils side last night. Pune's batting has failed to fire in unison in most of the matches with Captain Aaron Finch being the only one to have scored half-centuries, on three occasions. His compatriot Steve Smith has also made some useful contributions in the middle order. Robin Uthappa, who opens the innings, has got the starts but the wicket-keeper batsman has been able to capitalise on them. Senior Indian player Yuvraj Singh is known to change the course of the game and Pune would hope the flamboyant batsman returns to form against CSK, having logged just 135 runs in his six games. Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the key bowler for Pune and he would be eager to rattle the famed Chennai batting with the support of Ashok Dinda and Mitchell Marsh. Despite being expensive, Dinda is the highest wicket-taker for his side with 10 wickets at an average of 31.60. On the other hand, two-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings will step out with the twin agenda of revenge and maintaining their leadership position in the tournament. In sharp contrast to the hosts, Chennai have won their last five matches, with opener Michael Hussey in sublime form. Hussey had smashed a stroke-filled 95 against title holders Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous match and the Australian is the second highest run scorer in the series with 445 in eight games. Skipper MS Dhoni too has been in ominous form with the bat, which will be a cause of concern for Pune, while all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has proved his mettle as a finisher.