Pune Warriors, who have lost 10 games out of 12 played so far, are already out of the play-offs contention. Kolkata Knight Riders are virtually out of the semifinal contention after their loss to Mumbai Indians by 65 runs at the Wankhede stadium.
Pune Warriors’ biggest concern is their bowling. Death bowling just accentuates their struggles with the ball. Two games earlier, they got pounding from AB de Villiers. In their last game Staurt Binny and Brad Hodge got the big hits when needed and won a close game at Jaipur. The bowling combinations keep changing. While Ashok Dinda was entrusted with the responsibility of bowling the death overs, in the previous game he was dropped and Wayne Parnell took over the mantle along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Parnell had a good outing; he worked up good pace and picked up three wickets. Krishnakant Upadhyay, Dinda’s replacement, failed to impress. Rahul Sharma has failed to put a lid to the scoring rate.
Angelo Mathews when he misses his mark goes for plenty of runs. His 21-run over gave Rajasthan’s run-chase an impetus in the middle overs. Yuvraj Singh can be a good fifth bowling option. Skipper Aaron Finch might look to use Yuvraj’s bowling more.
Pune’s batting has put up scores on the board. Robin Uthappa has been in red-hot form. His two half-centuries in the last two games is good news for the Pune camp. Aaron Finch compliments Uthappa well and the Pune opening duo has made life easier for the middle order. Yuvraj is due for a big score. He has not really fired in the tournament. Mitchell Marsh and Mathews can use the long handle.
Kolkata Knight Riders, unlike Pune, are struggling to put up decent scores. Gautam Gambhir, after scoring hat-trick of half-centuries is unable to get big scores which is affecting the side’s fortunes. Manvinder Bisla has been sporadic with his scores. Yusuf Pathan has had couple of decent innings but overall his form has been a big worry. Jacques Kallis has not looked fluent. Eoin Morgan has been Kolkata’s best batsman.The Kolkata middle-order has not fired.
Kolkata have benched Ryan ten Doeschate. He might get a game ahead of Ryan McLaren who went for 60 off his four overs against Mumbai Indians. Sunil Narine and Morgan are certainties. It will be interesting to see if Jacques Kallis makes way for Brendon McCullum to bolster the batting.
Both the teams have a point to prove in IPL 2013. So expect an engrossing battle between them.
Pune Warriors India (probable): Robin Uthappa, Aaron Finch (c), Yuvraj Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Angelo Mathews, Udit Birla, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Wayne Parnell, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Krishnakant Upadhyay.
Kolkata Knight Riders (probable): Gautam Gambhir (c), Manvinder Bisla (wk), Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Debabarata Das, Rajat Bhatia, Sunil Narine, Iqbal Abdulla, Lakshmipathy Balaji.
Time: 20:00 local | 14:30 (GMT)
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)