IPL 2013 Preview: Batting woes surround Kings XI Punjab andPune Warriors ahead of return leg

Pune Warriors India lost their previous encounter against Kings XI Punjab by 8 wickets. They will be hoping for a better performance against Punjab at Mohali this time around © IANS

 
By Jaideep Vaidya
 
Mohali: Apr 20, 2013
 
Two teams in desperate need of a few points face off at the PCA Stadium, Mohali, where the Kings XI Punjab host the Pune Warriors India in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Both teams have been far from convincing as we near the completion of the first three weeks of the tournament and have just four points each. 
 
This is their second meeting in the tournament; the first leg resulted in a rare and convincing victory for Adam Gilchrist‘s Punjab where they kept the Warriors to 99 for nine in 20 overs and won the match with eight wickets and 50 balls to spare.
 
However, if Punjab are to repeat their feat in the return leg, they have to buck up with their batting which has been rather woeful, save the first game against Pune. Captain Gilchrist was the first one to put his hands up and take the blame after aggregating just 57 runs from five games. 
 
Whenever Punjab have stepped out to bat, their fans insist that it’s Gilchrist’s day and the big knock is due, but the swashbuckling Australian has failed them so far. Even a 20-ball 40 from Gilly is enough to provide the rest of the Punjab batting the required impetus to go ahead and make a huge score. Gilly would hope his day comes sooner than later, given he is taking up a valuable foreigner’s spot in the team.
 
Fellow top-order batsmen Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra have shown promise but failed to convert their starts into big scores. More often than not, the entire responsibility of carrying Punjab’s batting gets pushed on to David Hussey’s shoulders. The Australian could do with some help from the rest of the line-up.
 
Punjab’s bowling looks sorted with the three pacers — Manpreet Gony, Praveen Kumar and Azhar Mahmood — doing well so far. Punjab could get Ryan Harris, or even David Miller, back in the scheme of things in place of Dimitri Mascarenhas.
 
As for Pune, they have been the most disappointing team this season, apart from Delhi Daredevils. A shock win over the Chennai Super Kings seemed to have done their confidence a world of good and they were cruising towards another victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game, before ridiculousness and Amit Mishra struck.
 
Like Punjab, Pune’s batting has failed to impress. While Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa do provide them with a good start, names like Yuvraj Singh, Ross Taylor and even captain Angelo Mathews have failed to take over the reins. Pune could do with a good shuffle in their top six and Mathews would be the first name that warrants a seat on the bench. 
 
It’s a tough call dropping your captain, but just 52 runs in five games isn’t what you expect from a leader. Pune have got players like Marlon Samuels, and Mithun Manhas on the bench, who long deserve an outing. Pune could also consider dropping an unimpressive Tirumalsetti Suman and give a chance to Udit Birla or Harpreet Singh.
 
Pune’s bowling looks set with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and his freakish in-swingers spearheading the attack. The inclusion of all-rounder Manhas could just allow Pune to drop Ashok Dinda, who has looked helpless so far.
 
Teams:
 
Kings XI Punjab (Probable): Adam Gilchrist (c & wk), Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Paul Valthaty, Gurkeerat Singh, Azhar Mahmood, Manpreet Gony, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Ryan Harris.
 
Pune Warriors (Probable): Robin Uthappa (wk), Aaron Finch, Udit Birla, Ross Taylor (c), Yuvraj Singh, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Mithun Manhas, Mitchell Marsh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Sharma.
 
Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT

(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog – The Mullygrubber )