A confident Rajasthan Royals will take on the struggling Pune Warriors India in the 13th match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday.
While Rajasthan will look to keep their winning run intact, Pune will be desperate to register their first win in the tournament in front of the home crowd.
Pune batsmen have been disappointing in their first two games of the tournament and this is the biggest concern for Angelo Mathews-led side in the games to come.
Against the Kings XI Punjab, Pune produced a hapless batting performance and were restricted to just 99 for nine from their allotted 20 overs. Pune capitulated and could gain nothing as Punjab achieved the target in only 12 overs, losing two wickets.
Warriors’ first game too was a disappointing affair, as they failed to chase a moderate total of 127 against the newly-inducted Sunrisers Hyderabad and were bowled out for a paltry 104.
The home side could make changes for the tie against the Rajasthan Royals, especially in their batting order. Their star Kiwis batsman Ross Taylor must move up the order to provide more solidity.
Taylor’s scores of 19 and 15 in the first two matches only indicate that the Kiwis batsman needs to spend more time in the middle. He has played at No 5 position in both the matches.
The bowlers haven’t done well either. Pune’s impressive young talent Bhuvneshwar Kumar has only one wicket to his credit after two games and Ashok Dinda has two in as many matches.
Skipper Mathews hasn’t made much difference as well. With the ball he has not made much of a difference to Pune’s dwindling fortunes and has returned with poor scores with the bat. In the first two encounters against the Sunrisers and Punjab, Mathews had scores of eight not out and four – an area where he will certainly intend to improve.
Warriors will hope that their star all-rounders: Yuvraj Singh, Marlon Samuels and Abhishek Nayar contribute more to earn them their firstwin.
On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals’ confidence will be bolstered by their 19-run win over the defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at their fortress – the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. But, they will have to be wary of complacency and the firepower which Pune Warriors India have in their ranks.
The green-top wicket at their home ground urged the Royals to play an five-pronged pace attack, and their move paid rich dividends as they bundled out the Knight Riders for 125 to register their second win of the tournament.
However, the Royals will have keep things moving on the field; skipper Rahul Dravid was fined for slow over rate in the clash against the Knight Riders.
The return of Shane Watson and the presence of big hitters such as Stuart Binny, Owais Shah and the presence of stalwarts such as skipper Dravid and Brad Hodge gives Rajasthan an edge Pune.
Rajasthan’s bowlers have notched up match-winning performances so far. Shaun Tait’s express pace and S Sreesanth’s impressive comeback is a big plus for Royals. Kevon Cooper single-handedly won Royals the match bowling an important final over against Delhi. He was mighty impressive against Kolkata picking up three for 15. Brad Hogg might be considered if Pune prepares a slow track.
Royals team management would want opener Ajinkya Rahane to give them a solid foundation.
Pune would want to avoid the ignominy of losing three in three whereas Dravid’s Rajasthan would want to keep their winning habit going and pave way towards knockouts- a thing they have failed to do since their IPL 2008 triumph.
Pune Warriors India (probable): Angelo Mathews (c), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Tirumalasetti Suman, Marlon Samuels, Ross Taylor, Abhishek Nayar, Mitchell Marsh, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma, Ashok Dinda.
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or talk about the sport. Having played the game at club and college level, he now pursues his passion as a scribe)